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Faculty of Political Science 
Columbia University 



is not a large city 

but there are those who love it 

who would choose to dwell therein 

before all cities beneath 

the skies 

All Such 



The following pages €.m)body the result of an observa* 
tional study of the social phenomena attendant upon ome of 
the greatest catastrophies in history — the Halifax Disaster. 
The idea of the work was suggested while carrying out a^ 
civic community study of the disaster city under the direc- 
tion of Professor F. H. Giddings of Columbia University. 

The account deals first with the shock and disintegration 
as the writer observed it. Individual and group reactions 
are next examined in the light of sociological theory. 
The chapters on Social Organization are an effort to picture 
that process as it actually occurred. 

The writer has also tried faithfully to record any im- 
portant contribution which Social Economy was able to 
make in the direction of systematic rehabilitation. Special 
reference is made to private initiative and governmental 
control in emergency relief. This monograph is in no 
sense, however, a relief survey. Its chief value to the 
literature of relief will lie in its bearing upon predictable 
social movements in great emergencies. 

Nor is the book a history of the disaster. It is rather, 
as the title suggests, an intensive study of two social orders, 
between which stands a great catastrophe, and its thesis is 
the place of catastrophe in social change. 

In the preparation of this work, which the author be- 
lieves' to be the first attempt to present a purely scientific 
ctnd sociological treatment of any great disaster, he has re- 
ceived invaluable assistance. A few grateful lines can 
ill-express his obligation to his Professors of the Department 
7] 7 


of Sociology. To Professor F. H. Gidklings the volume owes 
its inspiration and much of its social philosophy. To Pro- 
fessor A. A. Tenney it owes its present form and structure 
and any literary excellence it may possess. Professor R. 
E. Chaddock has read the manuscript throughout and has 
conitributed many helpful suggestions. Professor S. M. Lind- 
say has read the chapter on Social Legislation, and Pro- 
fessor R. S. Woodworth of the Department of Psycholog'y, 
that on Disaster Psychology. The author is under special 
tribute to Professor H. R. Seager, and to Professor Tenney, 
who most cheerfully sacrificed part O'f a summer vacation 
to read and revise the manuscript and proof. 

Without the walls of the Universiity there are also those 
who have given aid. The author gratefully acknowledges 
the assistance of Dr. Edward T. Devine of New York, 
of Mr. C C. Carstenss, of Boston, of Mr. Thomas Mackay, 
of Ottawa, and of Miss E. M. A. Vaughan, of the St. John 
Public Library. He has enjoyed the cooperation of many 
friends and fellow-townsmen of Halifax. He desires to 
thank particularly. Miss L. F. Barnaby, of the Halifax: 
Citizens' Library, Miss J. B. Wisdom, of the Halifax Wel- 
fare Bureau, Rev. W. J. Patton of St. Paul's Church, Mr. 
W. C. Milner, of the Public Archives of Canada, Mr. L. 
Fred. Monaghan, Halifax City Clerk, Mr. G. K. Butler, 
Supervisor of Halifax Schools, Mr. R. M. Hattie, Secretary 
of the Halifax Town-Planning Coimmission, Dr. Franklin B. 
Royer, Director of the Massachusetts^Halifax Health Comn 
mission, Mr. E. A. Saunders, Secretary of the Halifax! 
Board of Trade, Mr. E. H. Blois, Superintendent of 
Neglected and Delinquent Children, and last of all and most 
of all his friend of many years, Mr. A. J. Johnstone, editor 
of the Dartmouth Independent. 

S. H. P. 
Columbia University, New York, October, 1920. 




The " catastrophe " in sociological literature 13 

The " catastrophic view " r^. progress in evolution 14 

Factors in social change IS 

The stimuli factors 16 

What crises mean 16 

Communities and great vicissitudes 19 

Causes of immobility 19 

Catastrophe and progress 21 

Historic cases suggested for study 23 

Catastrophe and Social Disintegration 

The City of Halifax 25 

Terrific nature of the explosion 26 

Destruction of life and property 26 

The subsequent fire and storms 29 

Annihilation of homes 31 

Arresting of business 31 

Disintegration of the social order 32 

Catastrophe and Social Psychology 

Shock reaction 36 

Hallucination 37 

Primitive instincts 39 

Crowd psychology 41 

Phenomena of emotion 44 

How men react when bereft completely 47 

Post-catastrophic phenomena 48 

Human nature in the absence of repression by conventionality, cui- 

tom and law . . 49 

Fatigue and the human will 52 

9] 9 



The stimuli of heroism 55 

Mutual aid 56 

Catastrophe and Social Organization 

The organization of relief 59 

The disaster protocracy 60 

The transition from chaos through leadership 61 

Utility of association ... 62 

Vital place of communication 62 

Imitation 63 

Social pressure 63 

Consciousness of kind 63 

Discussion 64 

Circumstantial pressure 64 

Climate 65 

Geographic determinants 67 

Classification of factors 67 

Catastrophe and Social Organization (Continued) 

The reorganization of the civil social order 69 

Division of labor 69 

Resumption of normal activities 70 

State and voluntary associations 71 

Order of reestablishment ».....,. 71 

Effects of environmental change 75 

The play of imitation yy 

The stimulus of lookers-on 78 

Social conservation 79 

Catastrophe and Social Economy 

The contribution of social service 80 

Its four-fold character 83 

The principles of relief 85 

Rehabilitation 86 

Phases of application 87 

Criticisms 92 

A new principle 95 

Social results 96 

Summary for future guidance 97 



Catastrophe and Social Legislation 

Governmental agencies in catastrophe 102 

What seems to be expected of governments 103 

What they actually do 103 

Social legislation 104 

A permanent contribution 109 

Catastrophe and Social Surplus 
Mill's explanation of the rapidity with which communities recover 

from disaster iii 

The case of San Francisco iii 

The case of Halifax 112 

Social surplus 112 

The equipmental factors 113 

Correlation of tragedy in catastrophe with generosity of public re- 
sponse 114 

Catastrophe insurance 116 

A practical step 117 


Catastrophe and Social Change 

The unchanging Halifax of the years 118 

The causes of social immobility 119 

The new birthday 122 

The indications of change — appearance, expansion of business, 
population, political action, city-planning, housing, health, edu- 
cation, recreation, community spirit 123 

Carsten's prophecy 140 


Recapitulation 141 

The various steps in the study presented in propositional form . . 142 

The role of catastrophe 145 

Index 147 

" This awful catastrophe is not the end but 
the beginning. History does not end so. It is 
the way its chapters open."— 5"*. Augustine, 


The " catastrophe " in sociological literature— The " catastrophic view '* 
vs. progress in evolution — Factors in social change — The stimuli 
factors-^What crises mean—Communities' and great vicissitudes — 
Causes of immobility—- Catastrophe and progressr— Historic cases sug- 
gested for study. 

There are imany virgin fields in Sociology. This is one 
of the attractions the subject has for the scientific mind. 
But of all such fields none is more; interesting than the 
factor of catastrophe in social change. 

And strangely enough, if there are but few references to 
the problem in all our rapidly-growing literature, it is not 
because caitastrophies are few. Indeed at would seem that 
with the advent of the industrial age, disasters grow more 
frequent every year.^ Many are small, no doubt, touching 
but the life of a village or a borough — ^a broken dyke, a^ 
bridge swept out by ice, a caved^in mline. Others again 
write themselves on the pages of History — an Ohio flood, 
an Omaha tornado, a Chicago fire, a San Francisco earth- 
quake, a Halifax explosion. Each in its own way inscribes itsi 
records of social change — some to be effaced in a twelve- 
month — some to outlast a generation. Records they are, 
for the most part unread. How to read them is the prob- 
lem. And. it may be that when readers have grown: in 
number and the script is better known, we shall be able to 

1 " Within a score of years disasters . . . have cost thousands of lives, 
have affected by personal injury, or destruction of property no fewer 
than a million and a half persons and have laid waste property valued 
at over a billion dollars . . . the expectation based on past experience 
is that each year no less than half a dozen such catastrophies will occur." 
(Deacon J. Byron, Disasters, N. Y., 1918, p. 7.) This quotation refers 
to the United States alone. 

13] 13 


seize the momenit of catastrophe and ttniultiply immeasurably 
its power for social good. 

To define the term catastrophe is scarcely necessary. The) 
dictionary calls catastrophe " an event producing a sub- 
version of the order or systemi of things," and such as '' may 
or may not be a cause of misery toi man." ^ It is desirable 
however to limit the use of the termi, in primary investiga- 
tions at least, to those disasters which affect communitiesi 
rather than states or nations, for restricted areas are more 
amenable to study. National cataclysims, such as war, 
famine, and financial panic are too general in character, and 
function on too grand a scale for satisfactory treatment, 
at least until the ground is cleared. It is necessary also to 
limit this investigation to those social changes which fol- 
low upon catastrophies, ratlier than precede them'. For 
there are social effects which result from living in anticipa- 
tion of disaster, such as* are observable among communities 
in volcanic areas. Interesting as a broad study might be, 
it would be likely to lead the investigator too far afield into 
the realm oi speculation. Nevertheless a general point of 
view is necessary to give meaning to even a limited treat- 
ment oif the theme. For this purpose there may be con- 
trasted the catastrophic view of histoiry, as illustrated by 
that of the Hebrew peoples, and the modern conception of 
progress through evolution. The former looks upon his- 
tory as a series of vicissitudes mercifully ending one day 
in final cataclysm. The spirit of apocalyptic expectancy pre- 
vails. Social conditions rest hopelessly static^» Faith is 
pinned to a spiritual kingdom which can grow and can en- 
dure. Against this has been set an optimistic evolution, 
pictured like an escalade with resident forces lifting the 

1 Catastrophies are those unforeseen events which the Wells-Fargo 
express receipts used to call quaintly " Acts of God, Indians and other 
pubUc enemies of the government." 


world to better days. Progress becomes a smooth con- 
tinuous growth. On the other hand the newer philosophy 
sees in history not necessarily the operation of progressive 
evolution but also of retrogressive evolution and cataclysm.^ 
There are great stretches of smooth and even current in 
the stream, but always along the course are seen the rapid 
and the water-fall, the eddy and reversing tide. The lat- 
ter is the general subject of this dissertation, and its thesis 
is the place of the water-fall. Only a very small, and 
specialized treatment is attempted ; the great Niagaras must 
be left to abler hands. 

The conception of social change as used in this monograph 
also needs definition. By social change is meant those rapid 
mutations which accompany sudden interferences with the 
equilibrium] of society, break up the status-quo^ dissipate 
mental inertia and overturn other tendencies resistant to 
structural modificaJtion. The various forces which initiate 
such disturbances are factors in social change. These 
factors may be intra-social, — within the group — such factors 
as operate in the regular social process, imitation and adap- 
tation, for example; or they may be extra-social, " stimuli " 
factors — from without the group — such as, accidental, ex- 
traneous or dramatic events. Of the latter conquest may 
be one, or the sudden intrusion of a foreign element, or 
rapid changes of environment.^ 

1 If nature abhors a vacuum, she also abhors stagnation. Is there not 
reason behind all this action and reaction, these cycles and short-time 
changes which her observers note? May it not well be that the ever- 
swinging pendulum has a istir-up function to perform and that the 
miniature daily catastrophies of life are the things which keep it 
wholesome and sweet ? 

" The old order changeth yielding place to the new. 
And God fulfils Himself in many ways 
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." 

— Tennyson, Alfred, The Passing of Arthur. 
' Ross, Edward A, Foundations of Sociology (N. Y., 1905), ch. viii, 
p. 189. 


These stiddeni chang-es are fully worthy of careful study 
by scientific method. However important the accumula- 
tion of iimipulses toward social transformation may be, there 
is often a single " precipitating factor " which acts as the 
"igniting spark" or "the knocking away of the stay- 
block," or " the turning of a lever." ^ It is among such 
extra-social or " stimuli " factors that catastrophe falls 
as a precipitating agent in social change. 

The significance of crisis in social change likewise re- 
quires attention, and it will be clarifying to our thought at 
^ this point to distinguish carefully between crisis and 
'i catastrophe, and to inquire what the nature of the former 
I really is. The word " crisis " is of Greek origin, meaning 
j a point of culmination and separation, an instant when 
\ change one way or another is impending. Crises are those 
\ critical moments which are, as we say, big with destiny. 
I Battles have crisis-hours when the tide of victory turns. 
Diseases have them — the seventh day in pneumonia, or the 
fourteenth day in typhoid fever. Social institutions afford 
numerous illusitrations, such as the eighth year of marriage.^ 
There are critical years of stress and strain — the ages 
of fourteen and forty in life-histories, the latter being ac- 
cording to Sir Robertson Nicoll the most dangerous hour 
of existence. Other crises are " hours of insight " in the 
world of thought, and hours of opportunity in the world of 
action, — that " tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the 
flood leads on to fortune," hours of doubt in religion " when^ 
all the. gods are dead." " Crisis," Professor Shailer Mat- 
i thews observes, " is something more than a relative ternH. 
I It describes a situation which is no ordinary member of ai 
• line of antecedents and consequents, but one that assures} 
\ radical change in the) imlmiediate future." He distinguishes 

1 Ross, op. cit., p. 198. 

2 Jeune, Sir Francis, a celebrated judge in divorce cases. 


between a crisis and a revolution. " The difference be- 
tween a revolution and a crisis is the difference between 
the fire and the moment when somieone with a lighted match 
in hand pauses to decide whether a fire shall be lighted.'* 
The term covers the situation, preceding change, whether 
this situation be the culmination of a process or the result 
of some particular stimiulus. " It is not necessarily pre- 
cipitated by great issues. Quite as often it is occasioned 
by events .... which are sc related to a new situation 
as to set in motion an entire group of forces as a match 
kindles a huge bonfire when once the fuel is laid." ^ The 
failure to distinguish between that which occasions the 
crisis and the crisis itsel'f has been the source of some con- i 
fusion in thinking. "Defeat in battle, floods, drought, 
pestilence and famine," are not strictly crises, but they 
super-induce the crisisHsituation, as does anything which 
brings about " a disturbance of habit," though it be simply 
*' an incident, a stimiulation or a suggestion." In short, 
crises are the result either of a slowly maturing process or of 
sudden strain or shock; and the nature of the reactioni in 
the crisis-hour is nothing imore than the effort towards the 
reestablishment of habits, new or old, when the former 
functioning has been disturbed. The situation, as has been 
pointed out, is closely correlated with attention. 

When the habits are running smoothly the attention is re- 
laxed ; it is not at work. But when something happens to dis- 
turb the run of habit, the attention is called into play, and de- 
vises a new mode of behavior which will meet the crisis. That 
is, the attention establishes new and adequate habits, or it is 
its function so to do.^ 

^Mathews, Shailer, The Church in the Changing Order (N. Y., 1907), 
ch. i, p. I. 

* Thomas, William I., Source Book of Social Origins (Chicago, 1909), 
Introduction, p. 17. 


What appears to take place is analogous to what is known as 
the reconditioning of instincts in psycholog'y. Professor Gid- 
dings has been the first to make the sociological application : 

Folk-ways of every kind, including mores and themistes are 
the most stable syntheses of pluralistic behavior; yet they are 
not unchanging. Under new and widening experience they 
suffer attrition and are modified. Instincts and with them 
emotion and imagination which largely fills the vast realm 
between instinct and reason are reconditioned. The word 
means simply that reflexes and higher processes subjected to 
new experiences are in a degree or entirely detached from old 
stimuli and associated with new ones. From time to time also 
traditions are invaded and habits are broken down by crisis. 
Pluralistic behavior then is scrutinized, criticized, discussed. 
It is rationally deliberated.^ 

Crises often, perhaps most often, precede catastrophies, 
as when revolutions break. The alternate truth that the 
catastrophies themselves are re-agents to generate the 
crisis^situaition has not been so commonly noted. Never- 
theless the disitiitegrationi of the riormjal by shock and 
calamiiity is an increasingly familiar spectacle. 

Heretofore it has been in the life-histories and careers of 
individual men rather than in the case of commainities that 
the observations have been recorded. Our biographies teem 
with instances of personal crises precipitated by a great shock 
or disappointment — Hawthorne's dismissal from the custom 
house, Goldsmith's rejection from Civil Service, the refusal 
of Dickens's application for the stage, the turning back of 
Livingstone from China, the bankruptcy of Scott. 

Now examination reveals that the one thing characteristic 
of the crisis-period in the individual is a state of fluidity^ 

*Giddings, Franklin H., "Pluralistic Behaviour," American Journal 
of Sociology, vol. xxv, no. 4 (Jan., 1920), p. 401. 

'The phrases " The world in a v^relter," " nations in the melting pot,*' 
" life in the smelting oven," are commonly heard and suggest a solution 
stage prior to the hardening process, or antecedent to crystallization. 


into which the individual is thrown. Life becomes like 
molten metal. It enters a state of flux ^ from which it 
must reset upon a principle, a creed, or purpose. It is 
shaken perhaps violently out of rut and routine. Old cus- 
toms crumible, and instability rules. There is generated a 
state of potentiality for reverse directions. The subject 
may " fall down " or he may " fall up." The presence of 
dynamic forces in such a state means change. But the 
precise role of the individual mind in a period of crisis is 
a problem not for sociology but for psychology. 

The principle that fluidity is fundamental to social 
change is also true, however, of the community. Fluidity 
is not the usual state of society. 

Most of the " functions " of society have no tendency to dis- 
turb the status quo. The round of love, marriage and repro- 
duction, so long as births and death balance, production so far 
as it is balanced by consumption, exchange so long as the 
argosies of commerce carry goods and not ideas, education so 
far as it passes on the traditional culture, these together with 
recreation, social intercourse, worship, social control, govern- 
ment and the administration of justice are essentially statical. 
They might conceivably go on forever without producing 

Indeed the usual condition of the body politic is im- l 
mobility, conservatism and "determined resistance to [\ 
change." The chief reason for this immobility is habit:* 

* Following the French Revolution Wordsworth wrote : 

I lost 
All feeling of conviction and in fine 
Sick, wearied out with contrarieties 
Yielded up moral questions in despair. 

— Prelude, bk. xi. 
•Ross, op. cit., p. 200. 

•To this cause of immobility may be added others, such as: (i) 
Narrow experience and few interests. (2) Large percentage of popu- 
lation owning property. (3) Oriental pride in permanence. (4) 
Fatalistic philosophies. (5) Over- emphasis of government. 



When our habits are settled and running smcx>thly they most 
resemble the instincts of animals. And the great part of our 
life is lived in the region of habit. The habits like the in- 
stincts are safe and serviceable. They have been tried and are 
associated with a feeling of security. There consequently 
grows up in the folk mind a determined resistance to change 
... a state of rapid and constant change implies loss of 
settled habits and disorganization. As a result, all societies 
view change with suspicion, and the attempt to revise certain 
habits is even viewed as immorality. Now it is possible under 
such conditions for a society to become stationary or to attempt 
to remain so. The effort of attention is to preserve the present 
status, rather than to re-accommodate. This condition is par- 
ticularly marked among savages. In the absence of science 
and a proper estimate of the value of change they rely on 
ritual and magic and a minute unquestioning adhesion to the 
past. Change is consequently introduced with a maximum of 
resistance . . . Indeed the only world in which change is at a 
premium and is systematically sought is the modern scientific 
world. ^ 

But when there comes the shattering of the matrix of 
custom by catastrophe, then imores are broken up and scat- 
tered right and left. Fluidity is accomplished at a stroke. 
There comes a sudden chance for permanent social change. 
Social changes follow both minor and major disasters. 
The destruction of a mill may change the economic outlook 
of a village. The loss of a bridge may result in an entirely 
different school system for an isolafted community ; a cloud- 
burst may move a town. Great visitations, like the Chicago 
fire or the San Francisco earthquake, reveal these social 
pi'ocesses in larger and more legible scale. Take as a 
single instance the latter city. Its quick recovery has been 
called one of the wonders of the age. In the very midst of 
surrounding desolation and business extinction, the Cali- 

1 Thomas, op. cit., pp. 20, 21. 


formiati city projected a Panama-Pacific exposition, and its 
citizens proceeded to arrange for one O'f the greatest of all 
world fairs. On the other hand, the social changes which 
succeed relatively small disturbances are often such as to 
elude an estimate. The reason has been well suggested 
that " big crises bring changes abouit most easily because 
they affect all individuals alike at the same time." In other 
words a more general fluidiiy is accomplished. We see, 
therefore, a second principle begin to emerge. Not only 
is fluidity fundamental to social change, but the degree of 
fluidity seems to vary directly as the shock and extent of the 

There yet remains to notice the bearing of catastrophe 
upon! social progress. The following words are quotable 
in this connection : 

It is quite certain that the degree of progress of a people 
has a certain relation to the number of disturbances encoun- 
tered, and the most progressive have had a more vicissitudinous 
life. Our proverb " Necessity is the mother of invention " is 
the formulation in folk-thought of this principle of social 

We cannot, however, remain long content with this sugges- 
tion as to the principle concerned — namely, that progress 
is a natural and an assured result of change. The point is 
that catastrophe always means social change. There is not 
always progress. It is well to guard against confusion here. 
Change means any qualitative variation, whereas^ progress 
means " amelioration, perfeotionment." The latter will 
be seen to depend on other things — ^the nature of the shock, 
the models presented, the community culture and morale, 
the Sitiimulus of leaders and lookers-on. The single case of 
Galveston, Texas,^ is sufficient to disprove the too optimistic 

* Thomas, op. cit., p. i8. 

""It has one of the finest, if not the finest, ports in North America. 


hypothesis that the effects of catasitrophies are uniform. 
Here a city lost heart by reason of the overwhelming flood, 
and in spite of superior commercial advantages was out- 
grown by a rival fifty miles away. At the same time the 
case of Dayton, Ohio, should be borne in imiind. Here also 
was a flood-stricken city and she became " the Gem City of 
the West." The principle^ thus appears to be that progress 
in catastrophe is a resultant of specific conditioning factors, 
some of which are subject to social control. 

It is indeed this very thing which makes possible the hope 
of eventual social control over disaster-stricken cities, and 
the transmutation of seeming evil into tremendous good. 
And this is in addition to the many practical social lessons 
which we have already been intelligent enough to preserve, 
such as those O'f better city-planning, and a miore efficient 
charity organization. 

How much of man's advancement has been directly or 
indirectly due to disaster?^ The question asks itself and 
it is a question as yet without an answer. When the answer 
is at last written, will there not be many surprises? Pitt- 
Rivers tells us that " the idea of a large boat might have 
been suggested in the time of floods when houses floated 
down the rivers before the eyes of men." ^ A terrible 

In 1900 a great tidal wave swept over the city, causing enormou& damage 
and loss of life. While the city has had a certain growth since that 
time, it has been far outstripped by •Houston, Dallas, and other Texas 
cities." — ^Kirby Page, formerly of Texas, in a letter to the author. 

^Another principle is suggested for study by the following sentence 
in Ross' Foundations of Sociology (p. 206) " Brusk revolution in the 
conditions of life or thought produces not sudden, but gradual changes 
in society." This might easily be elaborated. 

'The relationship of poetry and disaster is of interest. In a recent 
article on Disaster and Poetry a writer asks "whether often, if not 
always, suffering, disease and disaster do not bring to him [the poet] 
the will to create." — Marks, Jeanette, "Disaster and Poetry," North 
American Review, vol. 212, no. i (July, 1920), p. 93. 

8 Thomas, op. cit., p. 23. 


Storm at sea gave America its first rice.^ City-planning may 
be said to have taken its rise in America as a result of the 
Chicago fire, and the role of catastrophe in the progress of 
social legislation is a study in itself. The impetus thus 
received is immeasurable. Historically, labor-legislation 
took its rise with the coming of an infectious fever in the 
cotton-mills of Manchester in 1784. After the Cherry mine 
disasiter legislation ensued at once. Again it was the 
Triangle fire which led to the appropriation of funds for 
a factory investigation commission in the Sta^te of New 
York. The sinking of the Titanic has greatly reduced the 
hazards of the sea. 

It may easily prove true that ithe prophets of golden days 
to come who invariably arise on the day of disaster, are not 
entirely without ground for the faith which is in them; and 
that catastrophies are frequently only re-agents of further^ 
progress. But this is merely introductory. Thought be- 
comes scientific only when its conclusions are checked up 
and under-written by observation or experiimlent. Prior to 
such procedure it must still remain opinion or belief. 

The whole subject is, it must be repeated, a virgin field 
in sociology. Knowledge will grow scientific only after 
the most faithful examination of many catastrophies. But^ 
it must be realized that the data of the greatest value is left 
ofttimies unrecorded, and fades rapidly froiml the social 
memory. Investigation is needed immediately after the 
event. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance thatl 
sociological studies of Chicago, Galveston, Baltimlore, San 
Francisco, and other disaster cities should be initiated at once.^' 

*In this storm a ship from Madagascar was driven into a South 
Carolina port. In gratitude the Captain gave the Governor a sack of 

' It is perhaps due to the reader to say that while this volume treats 
specifically of Halifax, the writer has studied the records of many 


Of such a series — if the.Avork can be done — ^this little 
volume on Halifax is offered as a beginning. It is hoped that 
the many inadequacies of treatment will receive the generous 
allowances permitted a pioneer. 

disasters and these have been kept in mind in drawing his conclusions. 
He participated in the rescue and relief work at Halifax in 191 7, and 
at the time of the Titanic disaster accompanied one of the expeditions 
to the scene. He was in New York when the Wall Street explosion 
occurred, and made a first hand study of its effects. 

Catastrophe and Social Disintegration 

The City of Halifax—Terrific nature of the explosion— Destruction of 
life and property — The subsequent fire and storms — Annihilation of 
homes — Arresting of business — Disintegration of the social order. 

'Halifax is the ocean termiinal of the Dominion of 
Canada on her Atlantic seaboard. It is situated at the head 
of Chebucto Bay a deep inlet on the southeastern shoreline 
of Nova Scotia. It is endowed by nature with a magnifi- 
cent harbor, which as a matter of fact is one of the three 
finest in the world. In it a thousand vessels might safely 
ride at anchor. The possession of this harbor, together 
with ample defences, and a fortunate situation with regard 
to northern Europe established the Garrison City, early in 
the year 19 14 as the natural war-base of the Dominion. 
Its tonnage leaped by mlillions, and it soon became the third 
shipping port in the entire British Empire. Hither the 
transports came, and the giant freighters to join their con- 
voy. Cruisers and men-of-war put in to use itS' great dry- 
dock, or take on coal. Here too, cleared the supply and muni- 
tion boats^ — some laden with empty shells, others with high ex- 
plosives destined for the distant fields of battle. How much 
of the deadly cargO' lay in the road-stead or came and went 
during those fateful years is not publicly known.^ Cer- 
tainly there was too much to breed a sense of safety, but no 

1 During the month of December, 191 5, alone, 30,000 tons of munitions 
passed over the railroad piers of Halifax. 

25] 25 


one gave the matter second thought. All were intent upon^ 
the mighty task of the hour. Sufficient untO' each day was 
each day's evil. Each night the great war-gates were swung 
across the channels. Powerful searchlights swept unceas- 
ingly the sea and sky. The forts were fully manned. The 
gunners ready. The people knew these things, and no one 
dreamed of danger save to loved ones far away. Secure in 
her own defences the city lay unafraid, and almost apathetic. 

About midway in the last two years of war — to be ex- 
act December, 19 17, — a French munitioner^ heavily laden 
with trinitrotoluol, the most powerful of known explosives, 
reached Halifax fromi New York. On the early morning 
of the sixth of that month, she was proceeding under her 
own steam up the harbor-length toward anchorage in the 
basin — ^^an oval expansion half -hidden by a blunt hill called 
Turple Head. Suddenly an empty Belgian relief ship^ 
swept through the Narrows directly in her pathway. There 
was a confusion of signals; a few agonized manoeuvers. 
The vessels collided ; and the shock of their colliding shook 
the world! 

'*War-*came to America that morning. Two thousand 
slain, six thousand injured, ten thousand homeless, thirty- 
five millions of dollars in property destroyed, three hundred 
acres left a smoking waste, churches, schools, factories 
blown down or burned — such was the appalling havoc of the 

1 The Mont Blanc, St. Nazaire, Captain Lemedec, Pilot Francis 
Mackay, owners La Compagnie General Transatlantique 3,121 tons 
gross, 2252 net register, steel, single screw, 330 ft. long, 40 ft. beam, 
speed 7}^ to 8 knots, inward bound, from New York to await convoy. 
Cargo 450,000 lbs. trinitrotoluol, 2300 tons picric acid, 35 tons benzol, em- 
ployed in carrying munitions to France. 

•The Into, Christiania, Captain Fron, Pilot William Hayes, owners 
Southern Pacific Whaling Company, 5,041 tons gross, 3 161 tons register, 
steel, single screw, 430 ft. long, 45 ft. beam, speed 11 to 12 knots, outward 
bound to New York, in ballast, employed in carrying food to Belgium. 


greatest single explosion in the history of the world.^ It 
was an episode which baffles description. It is difficult to 
gain from words even an approximate idea of the catastro- 
phe and what followed in its trail. 

It w'as all of a sudden — a single devastating blast; then 
the sound as of the crashing of a thousand chandeliers. 
Men and women cowered under the shower of debris and 
glass. There was one awful mioment when hearts sank, 
and breaths were held. Then women cried aloud, and mien 
looked dumbly into each other's eyes, and awaited the crack 
of doom. To some death was quick and merciful in its 
coming. Others were blinded, and staggered to an fro 
before they dropped. Still others) with shattered limbs drag- 
ged themselves forth into the light — naked, blackened, un- 
recognizable human shapes. They lay prone upon the 
srt:reetside, under the shadow of the great death-cloud which 
sitill dropped soot and oil and water. It was truly a sight 
to make the angels weep. 

Men who had been at the front said they had seen 
nothing so bad in Flanders. Over there men were torn with 
shrapnel, but thie victiimis were in all cases men. Here 
father and mother, daughter and little child, all fell in 
**one red burial blent." A returned soldier said of it: "I 
have been in the trenches in France. I have gone over the 
top. Friends and comrades have been shot in my presence. 
I have seen scores of dead men lying upon the battlefield, 
but the sight .... was a thousand times worse and far 
more pathetic." ^ A well-known relief worker who had 
been at San Francisco, Chelsea and Salem immedialtely after 
those disasters said " I am( impressed by the fact that this is 
much the saddest disaster I have seen." It has been comi- 

*The greatest previous explosion was when 500,000 pounds of 
dynamite blew up in Baltimore Harbor. 
2 Johnstone, Dwight, The Tragedy of Halifax (in MS.). 


pared to the scenes pictured by Lord Lytton in his tale of 
the last days of Pompeii: 

True there was not that hellish river of molten lava flowing 
down upon the fleeing people ; and consuming them as feathers 
in fierce flames. But every other sickening detail was present 
— ^that of crashing shock and shaking earth, of crumbling 
homes, and cruel flame and fire. And there were showers, not 
it is true of ashes from the vortex of the volcano, but of soot 
and oil and water, of death-dealing fragments of shrapnel and 
deck and boiler, of glass and wood and of the shattered ship.^ 

Like the New Albany tornado, it caused losis " in all five 
of the ways it is possible for a disaster to do so, in death, 
permanent injury, temporary injury, personal property loss, 
and real property loss." ^ Here were to be found in one 
dread assembling the combined horrors of war, earthquake, 
fire, flood, famine and storm — a. combination sq&[i for the 
first time in the records of human disaster. 

It was an earthquake ^ so violent that when the explosion 
occurred the old, rock-founded city shook as with palsy. 
The citadel trembled, the whole horizon seemed to move 
with the passing of the earth waves. These were caught 
and registered, itheir tracings* carefully preserved, but the 
mute record tells not of the falling roofs and flying plaster 
and collapsing walls which to many an unfortunate victim 
brought death and burial at one and the same time. 

It was a flood, for the sea rushed forward in a gigantic 

*McGlashen, Rev. J. A., The Patriot (Dartmouth, 'N. S.). 

'Deacon, J. Byron, Disasters (N. Y., 1918), ch. ii, p. 158. 
" The effect of the vast, .sudden interference with the air was prac- 
tically the same as if an earthquake had shaken Halifax to the ground." 
(MacMechan, Archibald, "Halifax in Ruins," The Canadian Courier, 
vol. xxiii, no. 4, p. 6.) 

'The tracings on the seismograph show three distinct shocks at the 
hours 9.05, 9.10 and 10.05. 


tidal wave, fully a fathom in depth. It swept past pier and 
embankment into the lower streets, and receding, left boats 
and wreckage high and dry, but carried to a watery doom 
score upon score of human lives. Nearly two hundred men 
were drowned. 

It was a fire or rather a riot of fires, for the air was for 
a second filled with tongues of igneous vapour hiding them- 
selves secretly within the lightning discharge of gas, only 
to burst out in gusts of sudden flame. Numberless build- 
ings were presen'tly ablaze. Soon there was naught to the 
northward but a roaring furnace. Above, the sky wasi 
crimson; belowl, a living crematorium — church and school, 
factory and home burned together in one fierce conflagra- 
tion ; and the brave firemen knew that there were men and 
women pinned beneath the wreckage, wounded past self- 
help. Frantic mothers heard the cries of little children, but 
in vain. Fathers desperately tore through burning brands, 
but often failed to save alive the captives of the flame. And 
so the last dread process went on, — earth to earth, ashes to 
ashes, dusit to dust. And when the fires at last abated, the 
north end of the City of Halifax looked like some black- 
ened hillside which a farmer had burned .for fallow in the 

Bu/t perhaps the most terrible oif all the terrible accomp- 
animents was the tornado-like gas-blast from the bursting 
ship. It wrought instant havoc everywhere. Trees were 
torn from the ground. Poles were snapped like toothpicks. 
Trains were stopped dead. Cars were left in twisted mas- 
ses. Pedestrians were thrown- violently into the air, houses 
collapsed on all sides. Steamers were slammed against the 
docks. Then followed a veritable air-raid, when the sky 
rained iron fragments upon the helpless city. Like a meteoric 
shower of death, they fell piercing a thousand roofs, and 
with many a mighty splash bore down into the sea. 


Nor yet did ithis complete the tale of woes O'f this Die^ 
Irae. Scarce was the catastrophe an hour old when the 
news was. flashed around that a second explosion was ap- 
proaching. It was the powder magazine in the Navy-yard, 
and the flames were perilously near. Through the 
crowded streets raced the heralds like prophets of wrath to 
come. "Flee! .... Flee! .... Get into the open 
ground " was the cry. Shops were abandoned unguarded, 
goods laid open on every side. No key was turned, no till 
was closed, but all instanter joined the precipitant throng, 
driven like animals before a prairie fire — yet this was not all ; 
for " the plight of the aged, the sick, the infants, the bed- 
ridden, the cripples, the nursing mothers, the pregnant can 
not be described." 

It was like the flight from Vesuvius of which Pliny the 
Younger tells: 

You could hear the shrieks of women, the crying of children 
and the shouts of men. Some were seeking their children; 
others their parents, others their wives and husbands . . . one 
lamenting his own fate, another that of his family. Some 
praying to die from the very fear of dying, many lifting their 
hands to the gods, but the greater part imagining that there 
were no gods left anywhere, and that the last and eternal night 
was come upon the world. ^ 

It has been said that " Moscow was no rrtore deserted before 
Napoleon than were the shattered streets of Halifax when 
this flight had been carried out." ^ And whe5:i the hegira; 
was over, and when Ithere had ensued a partial recovery 
from the blow and gloom, a still lower depth of agony had 
yet to be undergone — a succession of winter stormis. Bliz- 
zards, rain, floods and zero weather were even then upotn 

* Pliny, Letters (London, 1915). voL i, bk. vi, p. 495. 

"Smith, Stanley K, The Halifax Horror (Halifax, 1918), ch. ii, p. 24. 


the way. They came in close procession and as if tO' crown 
and complete the terrors of the great catastrophe thunder 
rvimbled, lightning broke sharply and lit up weirdly the 
snow-clad streets. Such was the catastrophe of Halifax — - 
" a calamiity the appalling nature of which stirred the im- 
agination of the world." ^ 

The description here concluded, brief and inadequate 
as it is, will sufficienitly indicate the terrific nature of the 
catastrophic shock, and explain how utter and complete was 
the social disintegration which followed. 

There was the disintegration of the home and the family, 
— )the reproductive system of society — i^ts miembers sund- 
ered and helpless to avert it. There was the disintegration 
of the regulative system — government was in perplexity, 
and streets were without patrol. There was the disintegra- 
tion of the sustaining system — ^a dislocation of transporta- 
tion, a disorganization of business while the wheels of in- 
dustry ceased in their turning. There was a derangemient 
of the distributive system^ — of all the usual services, of il- 
lumination, water-connections, telephones, deliveries. It was 
impossible to conimunicate with the outside world. There 
were no cars, no mails, no wires. There was a time when 
the city ceased to be a city, its citizens a mass of unorganized 
units — struggling for safety, shelter, covering and bread. 
As Lytton wrote of Pompeii ; " The whole eldmients of 
civilization were broken up ... . nothing in all the varied 
and complicated machinery of social life was left save the 
primal law of self preservation."^ 

A writer has given a vivid word picture of the social con'- 

'Bell, McKelvie, A Romance of the Halifax Disaster (Halifax, 1918), 
p. 57. 

'Spencer, Herbert, The Principles of Sociology (N. Y., 1906), pt. ii, 
p. 499 et seq. 

•Lytton, Lord, The Last Days of Pompeii (London, 1896), p. 405. 


trasts of the disiaster night and the beautiful evening be- 

What a change from the night before ! No theatres open, no 
happy throngs along the street, no cheery gatherings around the 
fire-side. The houses were all cold, and dark and silent. In- 
stead of laughter, weeping; instead of dancing, agonizing 
pain; instead of Elysian dreams, ominous nightmares. Fears 
and sorrow were in the way and all the daughters of music 
were brought low . . . Halifax had become in a trice a city 
of dead bodies, ruined homes and blasted hopes.^ 

To have looked in upon one of the great miakeshift dormi- 
tories that first night, to have seen men, women and chill- 
ren, of all stations, huddled together on the stages of theatres, 
the chancels of churches, in stables, box-cars and basements 
was to have beheld a rift itt the social structure such as no 
community had ever known. Old traditional social lines 
were hopelessly mixed and confused. The catastrophe 
smashed through stro^ng walls like cobwebs, but it also 
smashed through fixed traditions, social divisions and old 
standards, making a rent which would not easily repair. 
Rich and poor, debutante and chamibermaid, official and bell- 
boy met for the first time as victimis of a common calamity. 
Even on the eighth, two days after the disaster, when 
Mr. Ratshesky of the Massachusetts' Relief arrived he 
could report : " An awful sight presented itself, buildings 
shattered on all sides — chaos apparent." In a room m 
the City Hall twelve by twenty, he found assembled " men 
and women trying to organize diflFerent departments of re- 
lief, while other rooms were filled to utmost capacity with 
people pleading for doctors, nurses, food, and clothing for 
themselves and members of their families. Everything was 
in turmoil."^ This account faithfully expresses the dis- 

* Johnstone, op. cit, 

2 Ratshesky, A. C, "Report of Halifax Relief Expedition," The 
State (Boston, 1918), p. n. 


integration which came with the great shock of what had 
come to pass. It is this disintegration and the resultant 
phenomena which are of utanost importance for the student 
of social science to observe. To be quite emotionally free in 
the observation of such phenomena, however, is almost im- 
possible. It has been said of sociological investigations that 

observation is made under bias because the facts under review 
are those of human life and touch human interest. A man can 
count the legs of a fly without having his heart wrung because 
he thinks there are too many or too few. But when he observes 
the life of the society in which he moves, lives and has his being, 
or some other society nearby, it is the rule that he approves or 
disapproves, is edified or horrified, by what he observes. When 
he does that he passes a moral judgment.^ 

Sociolo'gy has suffered because of this inevitable bias. In 
our present study it is natural that our sympathy reactions 
should be especially strong. " Quamquwm ammus mem- 
inisse horret, incipiam " must be our motto. As students 
we must now endeavor to dissociate ourselves from them, 
and look upon the stricken Canadian city with all a cheimjist's 
patient detachment. In a field of science where the prospect 
of large-scale experimental progress is remote, we must 
learn well when the abnormal reveals itself in great tragedies 
and when social processes are seen magnified by a thousand 
diameters. Only thus can we hope for advances that will 

In this spirit then let us watch the slow process of the 
reorganization of Halifax, and see in it a picture of society 
itself as it reacts under the stimulus of catastrophe, and 
adjusts itself to the circtunstantial pressure O'f new condi- 

1 Keller, A. G., " Sociology and Science," The Nation (N. Y., May 4, 
1916), vol. 102, no. 2653, p. 275. 


Before doing so, however, we shall pause, in the next 
chapter, to glance at a number of social phenomenai which 
should be recorded and examined in the light of social 
psychology. But we must not lose the relationship of each 
chapter to our major thesis. It is sufficient for our purpose 
if thus far it has been shown that at Halifax the shock re- 
sulted in disintegration of social institutions, dislocation of 
the usual methods of social control and dissolution of the 
customary; that through the catastrophe the community 
was thrown into the state of flux which, as was suggested 
in the introduction, is the logical and natural prerequisite 
for social change; and finally that the shock was of a 
character such as " to affect all individuals alike at the sanue 
time," and to induce that degree of fluidity mkDst favorable 
to social change. 


Catastrophe and Social Psychology 

Shock reaction — Hallucination — Primitive instincts — Crowd psychology 
—Phenomena of emotion — How men react when bereft completely — 
Post-catastrophic phenomena — Human nature in the absence of re- 
pression by conventionality, custom and law — Fatigue and the human 
will — The stimuli of heroism^ — Mutual aid. 

Social Psychology is a subject of primary importance 
to the student of society. Like Sociology itself its field 
is far from being exhausted. One looks in vain for a treat- 
ment of disaster psychology. In such a study the diverse 
phenomena involved would be of interest to the psychologist. 
Their effects in retarding or promoting social organization 
would concern the sociologist. With such possible effects 
in mind we are now to proceed to an examination of the 
major subjective reactions as they were to be seen in the 
Halifax catastrophe. 

It is improbable that any single community has ever 
presented so composite a picture of human traits in such 
bold relief as appeared in the City of Halifax upon the day 
of the explosion. Human phenomena which many knew 
of only as hidden away in books, stood out so clearly that 
he who ran might read. Besides the physiological reac- 
tions there was abundant illustration of hallucination, de- 
lusio^i, primitive instincts, and crowd psychology as well of 
other phenomena all of which have important sociological 
significance tending either to prolong disintegration, or to 
hasten social recovery. 

35] 35 


The first of these phenomiena was the "stun," of the 
catastrophe itself. The shock reaction at Halifax has been 
variously described. It has been graphically likened " to 
being suddenly stricken with blindness and paralysis." It 
was a sensation of utter helplessness and disability. " We 
died a thousand horrible deaths " ran one description, " the 
nervous shock and terror were as hard to bear as were the 
wounds." " The people are dazed," wrdte another ob- 
server, " they have almost ceased to exercise the sensation 
of pain." This physiological reaction animals and men 
shared alike. The appearance of the terror-stricken horses 
was as O'f beasts which had suddenly gone mad. 

A physiological accompaniment of shock and distraction 
is the abnormal action of the glands. The dislturbance of 
the sympathetic nervous systemi produced by the emotional 
stress and strain of a great excitement or a great disap- 
pointment is reflected in the stimulation or inhibition of 
glandular action. Much physical as well as nervous illness 
was precipitated by the grief, excitement and exposure of 
the disaster.^ Among cases observed were those of diabetes, 
tuberculosis and hyper-thyroidism, as well as the nervous 
instability to which reference is subsequently made. Such 
an epidemic of hyper-thyroidism! — exaggerated action' of 
the thyroid gland — is said toi have followed the Kishineff 
massacres, the San Francisco earthquake and the air-raids 
on London.^ As to diabetes, it has been shown that 

emotions cause increased output of glycogen. Glycogen is a 
step toward diabetes and therefore this disease is prone to ap- 
pear in persons under emotional strain ... so common is this 

1 Far a full discussion of nervous disorders induced by an explosion 
at short range, vide Roussy and Llermette, The Psychoneuroses of War 
(London, 1918), ch. x. 

2 Brown, W. Langden, Presidential address to Hunterian Society, 


particular result in persons under prolonged emotion that some- 
one has said that " when stocks go down in New York, diabetes 
goes up." ^ 

Turning now to other psychological aspects, we have 
to note the presence of hallucination in disaster. 

Hallucination may be roughly defined as false sense im- 
pression. For example, the patient sees an object which has 
no real existence, or hears an imaginary voice. Hallucinations 
are termed visual, auditory, tactile, etc. according to the sense to 
which the false impression appears to belong.^ 

Hallucination is induced by the unusual suggesting the ex- 
pected. It is sense-perception colored by association. It 
is the power of a domittant idea that, unbidden, enters the 
field of consciousness and takes possession of even the 
senses themselves. In Halifax one idea seemied to dominate 
most minds and clothe itself in the semblance of reality — 
the expected Germans. For a long time there had been 
under public discussion the question as to whether or not 
the city would be shelled by Zeppelin raiders, or possibly by 
a fleet at sea. All street-lights had been darkened by 
military orders. The failure to draw window shades had 
been subject to heavy penalty. It is no wonder eyes looked 
upward when there caime the crash, and when seeing the 
strange unusual cloud beheld the Zeppelin of fancy. A 
man residing on the outskirts of the town of Dartmouth 
" heard " a German shell pass shrieking above him. Dart- 
mouth Heights looks out over Halifax harbor, and here 
perhaps the vista is most expansive, and the eye sees furthest. 
The instant after the explo'sioni a citizen standing here 

*Cril€, George W., The Origin and Nature of the Emotions (Phila., 
191S), p. 163. 

'Hart, Bernard, The Psychology of Insanity (Cambridge, 1916), 
ch. iii, p. 30. 


" saw " clearly a German fleet manoeuvering in the dis- 
tance/ That shells had actually come few on the instant 
doubted. The head of one firm advised his employees not 
to run elsewhere, as " two shots never fall in the same place." 

This — du German assault — was the great mental explana- 
tion that came into the majority of minds. There was one 
other — that of the end of the world. Many fell to their 
knees in prayer. One woman was found in the open yard 
by her broken home repeating the general confession of the 
church. Few would have been surprised if out of the 
smoky cloud-ridden skies there should have appeared the 
archangels announcing the consummation of mundane af- 
fairs. Indeed there were instances, not a few, of those 
who "saw" in the death-cloud "the clear outlines of a 
face." Thus both auditory and visual hallucination were 
manifested to a degree. 

Hallucination has been described as " seeing " something 
which has no basis in reality. Thus it differs fromi delusion, 
which is rather a misinterpretation of what is seen. " De- 
lusions are closely allied to hallucinations and generally ac- 
company the latter. The distinction lies> in the fact that 
delusions are not false sensations but false beliefs."^ 
Anxiety, distraction by grief and loss, as well as nervous 
shock play freely with the mind and fancy and often swerve 
the judgment of perception. This was especially noticeable 
at Halifax in the hospital identification, particularly of 
children. A distracted father looked into a little girl's 
face four different times but did not recognize her as his 
own which, in fact, she was. The precisely opposite oc- 

^ "So hypochrondriac fancies represent 

Ships, armies, battles in the firmament 
Till steady eyes the exhalations solve 
And all to its first matter, cloud, resolve." 

— Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year. 

^Hart, op. cit., ch. iii, p. 31. 


currence was also noted. A fond parent time and timie 
again " discovered " his lost child, " seeing " to complete 
satisfaction special marks and features on its little body. 
But often there were present those who knew better, and 
the better judgment prevailed. Again this phenomenon 
was repeated in numberless instances at the morgue. 
Wearied and white after frantic and fruitless search where- 
ever refugees were gathered together, the overwrought 
•searchers would walk through the long lines of dead, and 
suddenly " recognize " a missing relative or friend.^ Re- 
gretfully the attendant fulfilled the same thankless task 
from day to day. There had been no recognition at all. 
The observer had seen " not the object itself but the image 
evoked in the mind." ^ 

The primitive instincts of man were for a long time 
vaguely and loosely defined, until James and later Mc- 
Dougall essayed to give them name and number. But only 
with Thorndike's critical examinaJtion has it become clear 
how difficult a thing it is to carry the analysis oi any situa- 
tion back to the elemental or " primal movers of all human- 
activity." Thorndike is satisfied to describe them as noth- 
ing save a s^ of original tendencies to respond to stimuli 
in more or less definite directions. When' he speaks of 
instincts it is to mean only a " series of situations and re- 
sponses " or " a set of tendencies for various situations to 
arouse the feelings of fear, anger, pity, etc. with which 
certain bodily movements usually go." Among them there 
are those resulting in " food-getting and habitation," in 
*•' fear, fighting and anger " and in " human intercourse." * 
But McDougall's classification preserves the old phrases, 

^ For parallel cases of erroneous recognition of the dead, vide Le Bon, 
Oustave, The Crowd, a Study of the Popular Mind (London), bk. i, 
ch. i, p. SI. 

2 Ibid., p. 51. 

» Thorndike, Edward L., The Original Nature of Man (N. Y., I9I3)» 
ch. V, p. 43 et seq. 


and men are likely to go on speaking of the " instinct of 
flight," the "instinct of pugnacity," "parcntal instinct." 
"gregarious instinct" and the others/ For the sociologist 
it is enough that all agree that men are held under sorn^j 
powerful grip of nature and driven at times almost inevit- 
ably to the dodng of acts quite irrespective of their social 

In catastrophe these primitive institicts are seen most 
plainly and less subject to the re-conditioning influences 
jof ordinary life. This was especially noticeable at Hali- 
fax. The instinct of flight for self-preservation was 
reflected in the reaction' O'f thousands. " Almost without 
thought, probably from the natural instinct of self-preserva- 
tion I backed from the window to a small store-room and 
stood there dazed." ^ The experience so^ described may bef 
said to have been general. This instinct was to be seen 
again in the action of the crew of the explosives-laden ship. 
Scarcely had the collision occurred when the whole comi- 
plement lowered away the boats, rowed like madmen to the 
nearest shore — ^which happened ^o be that opposite to Hali- 
fax — and " scooted for the woods." As the ship, although 
set on fire ilmmediately after the impact, did not actually 
blow up until some twenty minutes later, much might have 
been done by men less under the dominajtiioni of instinct, in 
the way of warning and perhaps of minimizing the inevi- 
table catastrophe.^ 

The instinct of pugnacity was to be seen in many a fine 
example of difficulty overcome in the work of rescue; as 

*MoDougall, William, An Introduction to Social Psychology (Boston, 
1917), ch. iii, p. 49 et seq. 

2, Sheldon, J., The Busy East (Sackville, N. B. Can.), March, 1918. 

3 The judgment of the court of enquiry ran as follows : " The master 
and pilot of the Mont Blanc are guilty of neglect of pubHc safety in 
not taking proper steps to warn the inhabitants of the city of a probable 
explosion." (Drysdale Commission, Judgment of, sec. viii.) 


also in other instances, some suggestive of that early com- 
bat when ammals and men struggled for mere physical 

The parental insjtinct was everywhere in evidence, and, 
was reflected not only in the sacrifices made and the priva*- 
tions endured by parents for their young, but in every act 
of relief, which arose in involuntary response to the cry 
oif the distressed. It perhaps partially explains the phenol 
menon ofteni noticed in disasters 'that " immediately and 
spontaneously neighbors and felloiWHto.'wnsmen spring toi 
the work of rescue and first aid." ^ 

The gregarious instinct — the instinct to herd — ^showed 
itself in the spontaneous groupings which came about and 
which seemed somehow to be associated with feelings of 
security from further harm. The refugees found comfort 
in the group. They rarely remained alone. ^ 

These and other instinotive responses in a greater or lessi 
degree of complication were to be remlarked of the actions! 
not only of individuals but of groups as well. In the latter 
the typical phenomena of crowd psychology were mani^ 
fested upon every hand. The crowd was seen to be what 
it is — " the like response of miany to a socially inciting event 
or suggestion such as sudden danger." Out of a mere 
agglomeration of individuals and under the stress of emo- 
tional excitement there arose thajt mental unity, which Le 
Bon emphasizes.^ There was noticeable the feeling of ) 
safety associated with togetherness which Trotter suggests,* / 
There was the suggestibility, with its preceding conditions" 
which Sidis* has clarified, namely, expectancy, inhibition, 

* Deacon, J. Byron, Disasters (N. Y., 1918), ch. vi, p. 151. 

'Le Bon, op. cit., p. 26. 

•Trotter, William, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War (London, 
1919), p. 31. 

*Sidis, Boris, The Psychology of Suggestion (N. Y., 1919), ch. vi, 
p. 56 ^^ seq. 


and limitation of the field of consciousness. There were 
the triple characteristics which Giddings notes : " Crowds 
are subject to swift contagion of feeling, they are setisitivei 
to suggestion .... and always manifest a tendency to( 
carry suggested ideas immediately into action." ^ 

Of illustrations of impulsive social action there are nonei 
more apt than those furnished by the reactions following 
the Halifax tragedy. Only Pliny's narra,tive of the flight 
from the eruption of Vesuvius, or the story of the " Day of 
Fear " in France,^ or that depicting the days of the comet ^ 
are comparable thereto. 

At first all was confusion. Some ran tO' the cellars. 
Some ran to the streets. Sqm'e ran to their shops. Those in 
the shops ran home. This was in the area of wounds and 
bruises. Farther north was the area of death. Thither 
the rescuers turned. Automobiles sped over broken glass 
and splintered boards toward the unknown. Then came 
the orders of the soldiers, whose barracks were situated 
in the very heart of the danger district, for the people to 
fly southward. Common-ward, to the open spaces — any- 
where. Another explosion was imminent. Then came 
further outbreaks of the flight impulse. Runs a graphic 
account : 

The crowd needed no second warning. They turned and 
fled. Hammers, shovels and bandages were thrown aside. 
Stores were left wide open with piles of currency on their 
counters. Homes were vacated in a twinkling. Little tots 
couldn't understand why they were being dragged along so 
fast. Some folks never looked back. Others did, either to 

* Giddings, Franklin H., Principles of Sociology (N. Y., 1916), bk. ii^ 
ch. ii, p. 136. 

'Stephens, Henry M., A History of the French Revolution (N. Y., 
1886), vol. i, p. 179. 

'Wells, H. G., In the Days of the Comet (N. Y., 1906). 


catch a last glimpse of the home they never expected to see 
again or to tell if they could from the sky how far behind them 
the Dreaded Thing was. . . . They fled as they were. . . . Some 
carried children or bundles of such things as they had scram- 
bled together. . . . Many were but scantily clad. Women fled 
in their night dresses. A few were stark naked, their bodies 
blackened with soot and grime. These had come from the 
destroyed section of the North End. What a storm-tossed 
motley throng, and as varied in its aspect and as poignant in 
its sufferings as any band of Belgian or Serbian refugees flee- 
ing before the Hun. ... A few rode in autos, but the great 
majority were on foot. With blanched faces, bleeding bodies 
and broken hearts, they fled from the Spectral Death they 
thought was coming hard after, fled to the open spaces where 
possibly its shadow might not fall. Soon Citadel Hill and the 
Common were black with terrified thousands. Thousands more 
trudged along St. Margaret's Bay road, seeking escape among 
its trees and winding curves. . . . Many cut down boughs and 
made themselves fires — for they were bitterly cold. Here they 
were — poorly clad, badly wounded, and with not one loaf of 
bread in all their number, so hastily did they leave, when gallop- 
ing horsemen announced the danger was over and it was safe 
to return.^ 

The ever-sihifting responsivcirLess to nimoir which distin- 
guishes a crowd was noted. 

The entrance to the Park was black with human beings, some 
massed in groups, some running anxiously back and forth like 
ants when their hill has been crushed. There were blanched 
faces and trembling hands. The wildest rumors were in cir- 
culation and every bearer of tidings was immediately sur- 

Not only here but when the crowd trekked back, and in 

1 Johnstone, Dwight, The Tragedy of Halifax (in MS.). 
*St. John Globe, Correspondence, Dec, 1917. 


the subsequent scenes which were witnessed in supply sta- 
tions and shelters, the association which Sidis draws be- 
tween calamity and hyper-suggestibiliity in the body politid 
was abundantly endorsed. 

We must now endeavor to understand the phenomena of 
emotion which accompany a great catastrophe. This is 
noft the less difficult because the term emotion lis not given 
consistent use even by psychologists. One interprets it 
as merely the affective side of the instinctive process — 
those " modes of affective experience," such as " anger, fear, 
curiosity/' which accompany the excitement of " the prin- 
cipal powerful instincits." ^ Another sees it as alsoi an impul- 
sive, not merely a receptive state. It is " the way the body 
feels when it is prepared for a certain reaction," and in- 
cludes " an impulse toward the particular reaction." ^ 

It will be accurate enough for our purpose to think of 
the emotions as complicated states of feeling more or less 
allied to one another and to the human will.® Aimlong them 
are jealousy arid envy — " discomfort at seeing others ap- 
proved and at being out-done by them." * This appeared 
repeatedly in the administration of relief and should be in- 
cluded in disaster psychology. Again greed ^ — more strictly 
a social instinct than an emotion^ — was common. How comj- 
rnion will receive further exemplification in a later chapter. 

* McDougall, op. cit., p. 46. 

'Woodworth, Robert S., Dynamic Psychology (N. Y., 1918), ch. iii, 
p. 54. 

'"Anger, zeal, determination, willing, are closely allied, and probably 
identical in part. Certainly they are aroused by the same tstimulus, 
namely, by obstruction, encountered in the pursuit of some end." {Ihid., 
p. 149.) 

*Thorndike, op, cit., p. loi. 

*"To go for attractive objects, to grab them when within reach, to 
hold them against competitors, to fight the one who tries to take them 
away. To go for, grab and hold them all the more if another is trying 
to do so, these lines of conduct are the roots of greed. (Ibid., p. 102.) 


Fear has already been referred to. Anger, shame, re- 
sentment while evident, were of less significance. Grati- 
tude was early shown and there were many formal expres- 
sions of i)t. Later on, it seemed to be replaced by a feeling 
that as sufferers they, the victims, were only receiving their 
due in whatever aid was obtained. 

Of special interest is the role of the tender emotions, 
kindliness, sympathy and sorrow, as well as the reactions 
which may be expected when these occur in imusual exalta- 
tion (through the repetition O'f stimuli or otherwise. 
Whatever m'ay be the nature of the process wheneby the 
feelings of his fellows affect a man, that which chiefly con- 
cerns us here, is how these reactions differ when the stimula- 
tion is multiplex. Of this multiplex stimulation in collec- 
tive psychology Graham Wallas has written: 

The nervous exaltation so produced may be the effect of the 
rapid repetition of stimuli acting as repetition acts, for instance, 
when it produces seasickness or tickling. ... If the exaltation is 
extreme conscious control of feeling and action is diminished.^ 
Reaction is narrowed and men may behave, as they behave in 
dreams, less rationally and morally than they do if the whole 
of their nature is brought into play.^ 

What Wallas has said of the additional stimulation which 
the presence of a crowd induces may be given wider applica- 
tion, and is indeed a most illumiinating thought, describing 
exactly the psycho^emotional reactions produced by the 
stimulajtion of terrifying scenes, such as were witnessed at 

* M. Dide, a French psychologist, regards " the hypnosis produced by 
emotional shock — and this occurs not only in war but in other great 
catastrophits as well — as genetically a defence reaction, like natural 
sleep whose function according to him is primarily prophylactic against 
exhaustion and fatigue, ... it is comparable to the so-called death- 
shamming of animals." (Dide, M., Les emotions et la guerre (Paris, 
1918), Review of, Psychological Bulletin, vol. xv, no. 12, Dec, 1918, p. 441.) 

2 Wallas, Graham, The Great Society (N. Y., 1917), p. 136. 


A case io point was that of the nervous exaltation pro- 
duced upon a young doctor who operated continuously for 
many hours in the removal of injured eyes. The emotional 
tension he went through is expressed in his words to a 
witness : " If relief doesn't come to me soon, I shall murder 

Another instance where conscious conftrol of feeling and 
action was diminished was that of a soldier. He was so 
affected by what he passed through during the explosion and 
his two days' participation in relief work, that he quite un^ 
wittingly took a seat in a train departing for Montreal. 
Later in a hospital of that city after many mental wander- 
ings he recovered his miemory. Over and over again he 
had been picturing the dreadful scenes which he had ex- 
perienced. This condition includes a hyperactivity of the 
imagination "characterized by oneirism [oneiric delirium] 
reproducing most often' the tragic or terrible scenes which 
immediately preceded the hypogenic shock." ^ 

The nature of sympathy ^ may not be clearly compre- 
hended but of its effects there is no doubt. It may lead to 
the relief of pain or induce the exactly opposite effect; or 
it may bring about so lively a distress as to quite incapacitate 
a man from giving help. Again it may lead to the avoid- 
ance of disaster scenes altogether. Thus some could on no 
account be prevailed upon to go into the hospitals or to enter 
the devastated area. Others by a process understood im 
the psychology of insanity secured the desired avoidance by 
suicide. The association of suicide with catastrophe has 
been already remarked in the case of San Francisco. A 
Halifax instance was that of a physician who had labored 
hard aim>ong the wounded. He later found the reaction of 

* Ibid., p. 440. 

'Classed by William James as an emotion, but considered by Mc- 
Dougall a pseudo-instinct. 


his emotional experiences too strong. He lost his mental 
balance and was discovered dead one morning near his 
office door. He had hanged himself during the night. 
Still another, a railroad man, driven to despair by loneliness 
and loss, his wife and children having perished, attempted 
to follow them in death. 

Joy and sorrow are pleasure-pain conditions of emotional 
states. Sorrow is painful because " the impulse is baffled 
and cannot attain more than the most scanty and imperfect 
satisfaction in little acts, such as the leaving of flowers on 
the grave; "^ although the intensity is increased by 
other considerations. Here again the unusual degree of 
stimulation which catastrophe induces brings about a be- 
havior other than that which commonly attends the ex- 
perience of grief. A phenomenon associated with whole- 
sale bereavement is the almost entire absence of tears. A 
witness of the San Francisco disaster said it was at the 
end of the second da;y that he saw tears for the first time.^ 
At Halifax, where the loss of life was many times greater, 
there was little crying. There seemed to be indeed a miser- 
able but strong consolation in the fact that all were alike 
involved in the same calamity.* 

There was " no bitterness, no complaint, only a great and ] 
eager desire to help some one less fortunate." Anothei^. 
observer said : " I have never seen such kindly feeling. I 
have never seen such tender sympathy. I have never heard 
an impatient word." And this was amongst men " who were 
covered with bruises, and whose hearts were heavy, who 
have not had a night's sleep, and who go all day long with- 

*McDougall, op. cit., p. 152. 

'O'Connor, Chas. J., San Francisco Relief Survey (N. Y., 1913), pt. i, 
p. 6. 

3 " The cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their 
character of loneliness." — (James, William, Memories and Studies, 
N. Y., 191 1, p. 224.) 


out thought of food." Another visitor remarked "there is 
not a more courageous, sane and reasonable people. Every- 
one is tender and considerate. Men who have lost wives 
and children, women whose sons and husbands are dead, 
boys and girls whose homes have been des(troyed, are work- 
ing to relieve the distress." A Montreal clergyman re- 
ported that " Halifax people have been meeting with dry 
eyes and calm faces the tragedies, the horrors, the suffer- 
ings and the exposures which foillowed the explosion." 
Grief is after all " a passive emotion," a " reaction of help- 
lessness." It is " a state of mind appropriate to a condi- 
tion of affairs where nothing is tO' be done " — ^ and there 
was much to be done at Hah fax. 

There are also to be added the phenomena of emotional 
parturition. As was to be expected the shock meant the 
im'mediate provision of a maternity hospital. Babies were 
born in cellars and among ruins. Premature births were 
common, one indeed taking place in the midst of the huddled 
thousands of refugees waiting in anguish upon the Com- 
mon for permission to return to their abandoned homes. 
Nor were all the ills for which the shock was responsible 
j immediately discernible. There were many post-catastro- 
\ phic phenemena. Three months after the explosion many 
found themselves suffering an inexplicable breakdown, 
which the doctors attributed unquestionably to the catastro- 
phe. It was a condition closely allied tO' " war-neurasth- 
enia." Another disaster after-effect also may be here re- 
corded. This was the not imnatural way in which people 
" lived on edge," for a long period after the disaster. 
There was a readiness and suggestibility to respond to 
rumor or to the least excitant. Twice at least the schools 
were emptied precipitately, and citizens went forth intoi 
pell-mell flight from their homes upon the circulation of 
reports of possible danger. No better illustraition is af- 
*Woodworth, op. cit., p. 58. 


forded of the sociological fact that " the more expectant, 
or overwrought the public imind, the easier it is to set up a 
great perturbation. After a series of public calamities 
.... minds are blown about by every gust of passion or 

There are also to be included a few miscellaneous observa- 
tions of behavior associated with the psychology of dis- 
aster relief, (i) The preference upofn the part of the 
refugee for plural leadership and decision. (2) The ag- 
gravatiou' of helplessness through the open distribution of 
relief. (3) The resentment which succeeds the intrusion 
of strangers in- relief leadership. (4) The reaction of 
lassitude and depression after a period of strain. (5) The 
desire for privacy during interviews. (6) The vital im- 
portance of prompt decision in preventing an epidemic of 

Analytic psychology is becoming increasingly interested 
in the phenomena of repression, inhibition and taboo. 
The real motives of action are often very different 
from the apparent motives which overlie them. Instinc- 
tive tendencies are buried beneath barriers of civilization, 
but they are buried alive. They are covered not crushed. 
These resistances are either within our minds or in society. 
The latter are summed up in conventionality, custom and 
law, all so relatively recent* in time as ,to supply a very 
thin veneer over the primitive tendencies which have held 
sway for ages. Few realize the place which convention- 
ality, custom and law possess m a community until in some 
extraordinary catastrophe their power is broken, or what 
is the same thing the ability to enforce them is paralyzed. 

*Ross, Edward A,, Social Psychology (N. Y., 1918), ch. iv, p. 66. 

'A list compiled by the author from suggestions in Deacon's dis- 
cussion of disasters. All were to be observed at Halifax. 

'It has been said that were the period of man's residence on earth 
considered as having covered an hundred thousand years, that of 
civilization would be represented by the last ten minutes. 


This tact is especially true of repressive enactments, and 
^most laws fall within this category. Catastrophe shatters 
/the unsubstantial veneer. When the police O'f Boston went 
on strike it was not only the signal for the crooks of all 
sfcowns to repair to the unguarded center, but an unexpected 
reserve of crookedness came to light within the city itself. 
Lytton discovered at Pompeii signs of plunder and sacrilege 
which had taken place " wheni the pillars of the world tot- 
tered to and fro." At the time of the St. John Fire 
" loafers and thieves held high carnival. All night long they 
roamed the streets and thieved upon the misfortunes of 
others." ^ 

With the possibility of apprehension reduced to a mini- 
mum in the confusion at Halifax, with the deterrent forces 
of respectability and law practically unknown, men ap- 
peared for what they were as the following statement only 
too well discloses: 

Few folk thought that Halifax harbored any would-be ghouls 
or vultures. The disaster showed how many. Men clambered 
over the bodies of the dead to get beer in the shattered brew- 
eries. Men taking advantage of the flight from the city because 
of the possibility of another explosion went into houses and 
shops, and took whatever their thieving fingers could lay hold 
of. Then there were the nightly prowlers among the ruins, 
who rifled the pockets of the dead and dying, and snatched 
rings from icy fingers. A woman lying unconscious on the 
street had her fur coat snatched from her back. . . . One of 
the workers, hearing some one groaning rescued a shop-keeper 
from underneath the debris. Unearthing at the same time a 
cash box containing one hundred and fifty dollars, he gave it 
to a young man standing by to hold while he took the victim 
to a place of refuge. When he returned the box was there, 
but the young man and the money had disappeared. 

Then there was the profiteering phase. Landlords raised 

1 Stewart, George, The Story of the Great Fire in St. John (Toronto, 
1877), p. 35. 


their rents upon people in no position to bear it. The Halifax 
Trades and Labor Council adopted a resolution urging that 
the Mayor be authorized to request all persons to report land- 
lords who " have taken advantage of conditions created by the 
explosion." . . . Plumbers refused to hold their union rules 
in abeyance and to work one minute beyond the regular eight 
hours unless they received their extra rates for overtime ; and 
the bricklayers assumed a dog-in-the-manger attitude and re- 
fused to allow the plasterers to help in the repair of the 
chimneys. And this during days of dire stress . . . when 
many men and women were working twelve and fourteen hours 
a day without a cent or thought of remuneration. One 
Halifax newspaper spoke of these men as " squeezing the utter- 
most farthing out of the anguished necessities of the homeless 
men, women and children." Truckmen charged exorbitant 
prices for the transferring of goods and baggage. Merchants 
boosted prices. A small shopkeeper asked a little starving child 
thirty cents for a loaf of bread. 

On Tuesday, December the twelfth, the Deputy Mayor issued 
a proclamation warning persons so acting that they would be 
dealt with under the provisions of the law.^ 

Slowly the anmi of repression grew vigorous once more. 
The military placed troops on patrol. Sentries were posted 
preventing entrance to the ruins to those who were not 
supplied with a special pass. Orders were issued to shoot 
any looter trying to escape. The Mayor's proclamation, the 
warning of the relief committee, the storm of popular in- 
dignation gradually became effectual. 

The stimulus of the same catastrophe, it thus appears, 
may result in two different types of responses — that of 
greed on the one hand or altruistic emotion on the other. 
One individual is spurred to increased activity by the op^'^ 
portunity of business profit, another by the sense of social^j 
needs. Why this is so — indeed the whole field of profiteer- 

* Johnstone, op. cit. 


itig — would be a subject of interesting enquiry. Whether it 
is due to the varying degrees of sociahzation represented 
in the different individuals or whether it is not also partly 
due to the fact that philanthropy functions best in a sphere 
out of line with a man's own particular occupation, the 
truth remains that some display an altogether unusual type 
of reaction in an emergency to the actions of others; and 
perhaps exhibit behavior quite different from that which 
appears normal in a realm of conduct where associations 
based on habit are so strongly ingrained. 

The human will as we have seen is in close association 
with the emotions. We are now to notice the dynamogenic 
value of the strong emotions aroused by catastrophe. It is 
first of all essential to remember the role of adrenin in 
counteracting the effects' of fatigue. Wonderful phenomena 
of endurance in disaster might well be anticipated for 
" adrenin set free in pain and in fear and in rage would 
put the members of the body unqualifiedly at the disposal 
of the nervous system." This is " living on one's will " or 
on " one's nerve." There are " reservoirs " of power ready 
to pour forth streams of energy if the occasion presents it- 
self. Strong emotions miay become an "arsenal of aug- 
mented strength." This fact William James .was quick to 
see when he said "on any given day there are energies 
slumbering within us which the incitements of that day do 
not call forth." ^ But i|t was left to Cannon to unfold the 
physiological reasons/ and for Woodworth to explain how 
the presence of obstruction has power to call forth new 
energies.* Indeed the will* is just the inner driving force 

* James, William, The Energies of Men ON. Y., 1920), p. 11. 
"Cannon, Walter B., Bodily changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage, 
di. xi, p. 184, et seq. 
•Woodworth, op. cit, p. 147. 
*Will is indeed the supreme faculty, the whole mind in action, the 


of the individual and an effort of will is only " the develop- 
ment of fresh motor power." ^ Following the lines of least 
resistance the will experiences no' unusual exercise. 
Catastrophe opposes the tendency to ehminate from life 
everything that requires a calling forth of unusual ener- 

The energizing influence of an emotional excitant was 
shown at Halifax in the remarkable way in which sick 
soldiers abandoned their beds and turned them over to the 
victims rushed to the military hospitals. It was seen again 
in the sudden accession of strength displayed by the in- 
valids and the infirm during the hurried evacuation of the 
houses — a behavior like that of the inhabitants of Antwerp 
during the bombardment of that city in October 19 14, when 
those who fled to Holland showed extraordinary resistance 
to fatigue.^ The resistance to fatigue and suffering re- 
ceived more abundant illustration at Halifax in the work of 
rescue and relief. Often men themselves were surprised at 
their own power for prolonged effort and prodigious strain 
under the excitem<ent of catastrophe. It was only on Mon- 
day (the fifth day) that collapses from work began to appear. 
Among the more generally known instances of unusual en- 
durance was that of a private, who' with one of his eyes 
knocked out, continued working the entire day of the dis- 
aster. Another was that of a chauffeur who with a broken 
rib conveyed the wounded trip after trip to the hospital, 
only relinquishing the work when he collapsed. An un- 
known man was discovered at work in the midst of the ruins 

internal stimulus which may call forth all the capacities and powers. 
(Conklin, Edwin G., Heredity and Environment in the Development 
of Man [Princeton], ch. vi, p. 47.) 

^Woodworth, op. cit., p. 149. 

2 Sano, F., " Documenti della guerra : Osservazioni psicologiche notate 
durante il bombardamento di Anversa," Rivista di psichologia, anno 
xi, pp. 1 19-128. 


although his own face was half blown off. Those who' es- 
caped with lesser injuries worked day and night while the 
crisis lasted. Many did not go home for days, so mani- 
fold and heavy were the tasks. There was no pause for 
comment. Conversation was a matter of nods and silent 
signs, the direction of an index finger. Weeks later the 
workers were surprised to find themselves aged and thin. 
The excitement, the stimulus of an overwhelming need had 
banished all symptoms of fatigue. During the congestion 
which followed the arrival of the relief trains there were 
m'en who spent seventy-two hours with scarcely any rest 
or sleep. One of the telephone terminal room staff stuck 
to his post for ninety-two hours, probably the recoird case 
of the disaster for endurance under pressure. Magnificent 
effort, conspicious enough for special notice was the work 
of the search parties who, facing bitterest cold and in the 
midst of blinding sstorms, continued their work of rescue; 
and the instance of the business girls, who' in the same 
wqather worked for many hours with bottles of hot water 
hung about their waists. An effect which could not es- 
cape, observation was the strange insensibility to suffering 
on the part of many of the victims themselves. Men, 
women and little children endured the crudest operations 
without experiencing the common effects of pain. They 
seemed to have been anaesthetized by the general shock. 
Sidewalk operations, the use of common thread for sutures, 
the cold-blooded extracting of eyes were carried on often 
without a tremor. This resistance to suffering was due 
not only to the increase of energy already described but also 
to the fact that the prostrating effect of pain as largely re- 
lative to the diversion of attention, — as " headaches dis- 
appear promptly upon the alarm of fire " and " toothaches 
vanish at the moment of a burglar's scare." Much pain is 
due to the super-sensitivity of an area through hyperaemia, 


or increased blood supply, following concentrated attefn^ 
tion. Thus it is actually possible by volition to control 
the spread of pain, and the therapeutic virtues of an 
electric shock or a slap in the face are equally demonstrable. 
This reasoning is also applicable to the absence of sympa- 
thetic reactiotis among muny disaster workers. They were 
found often to be "curiously detached and not greatly 
moved by the distressing scenes in morgue, ini hospital, in 
the ruins and at the inquiry stations."^ 

Catastrophe and the sudden termination of the normal / 
which ensues become the stimuli of heroism and bring i 
into play the great social virtues of generosity and of kind- ', 
liness — which, in one of its forms, is mutual aid. The new ^ 
conditions, perhaps it would be more correct to say, afford 
the occasion for their release. It is said that battle does 
to the individual what the developing solution does to the 
photographic plate, — brings out what is in the man. This 
may also be said of catastrophe. Every community has its 
socialized individuals, the dependable, the helpful, the con- 
siderate, as well as the " non-socialized survivors of 
savagery," who are distributed about the zero point of the 
social scale. Calamity is the occasion for the discovery of 
the " presence of extraordinary individuals in a group." 
The relation of them to a crisis is one of the most im|portant 
points in the problem' of progress. 

At Halifax there were encountered many such individuals 
as well as families who refused assistance that others might 
be relieved. Individual acts of finest model were written 
ineffaceably upon the social memory of the inhabitants. 
There was the case of a child who released with her teeth 
the clothes which held her mother beneath a pile of debris. 
A wounded girl saved a large family of children, getting 
them all out of a broken and burning home. A telegraph 

1. Smith, Stanley K., The Halifax Horror (Halifax, 1918), ch. iv, p. 44. 


Operator at the cost of his life stuck to his key, sent a warn- 
ing message over the line and stopped an incoming train in 
the nick of time. 

Group heroism was no less remarkable. For the flood- 
ing of the powder magazine in the naval yard an entire 
battery volunteered. This was why the second explosion 
did not actually occur. Freight handlers too, as well as 
soldiers, revealed themselves possessors of the great spirit. 
A conspicuous case was that oi the longshoremen working 
on board of a ship laden with explosives. Fully realizing the 
impending danger, because of the nearness of the burning 
munitioner, they used what precious minutes of life re- 
mained them to protect their own ship's explosives from 
ignition. A fire did afterwards start upon the ship but 
a brave captain loosed her from the pier, and himself ex- 
tinguished the blaze which might soon have repeated in part 
the devastations already wrought. 

No disaster psychology should omit a discussion of the 
psychology of helpfulness — that self-help to which the best 
relief workers always appeal, as well as of the mutual aid 
upon which emergency relief must largely depend. Mutual 
aid while not a primary social fact is inherent in the associa- 
tion of members of society, as it also "obtains among cells 
and organs of the vital organism." As it insured survival 
in the earlier stages of evolution ^ so' it reveals itself when 
survival is again threatened by catastrophe. 

The illustrations of mutual aid at Halifax would fill a 
volume. Not only was it evidenced in the instances of 
families and friends but also in the realm of business. 
Cafes served lunches without charge. Drug stores gave 
ooit freely of their supplies. Firms released their clerks 
to swell the army of relief. A noteworthy case of com- 

1 Kropotkin, Prince, Mutual Aid (N. Y., 1919), ch. i, p, 14. 


munity service was that of the Grocers' Guild announdngi 
that its m'embers would 

fill no orders for outside points during the crisis, that they 
would cooperate with the relief committee in delivering food- 
stuffs free of charge to any point in the city, and that their 
stocks were at the disposal of the committee at the actual cost 
to them.^ 

By incidents such as these, Halifax gained the appellation 
of the City of Comrades. 

Catastrophe becomes also the excitant for an unparalleled 
opening of the springs of generosity.^ Communication 
has transformed mutual aid into a term of worldwide signi- 
ficance. As at San Francisco, when from all directions 
spontaneous gifts were hurried to the stricken city, when in 
a period of three months seventeen hundred carloads and 
five steamerloads of relief goods arrived, in addition to 
millions of cash contributions, so was it at Halifax. So 
it has always been, as is proven by Chicago, Dayton, 
Chelsea as well as by numbers of other instances. The 
public heart responds with instantaneous and passionate 
sympathy. Halifax specials were on every railroad. Ships 
brought relief by sea. Cities vied with each other in their 
responses. Every hour brought telegraphed assistance from 
governments and organizations. In about fifteen weeksi 
approximately eight millions had been received, aside from 
the Federal grant. But it was not the totality of the gifts, 
but the nimiber of the givers which gives point to our study. 
So many rushed with their donations to the Calvin Austin 
before she sailed from Boston on her errand of relief that 

* Johnstone, op. cit. 

'There is no better evidence of the response of the public heart to a 
great tragedy than the fact that at Halifax upwards of a thousand 
offers were received for the adoption of the orphaned children. 


**ith€ police reserves were called out to preserve order." A 
great mass of the contributions involved much personal 
sacrifice upon the part of the contributors, as accompany- 
ing letters testified. It could be written of Halifax as it 
was of San' Francisco that : 

all the fountains of good fellowship, of generosity, of sympathy, 
of good cheer, pluck and determination have been opened wide 
by the common downfall. The spirit of all is a marvelous 
revelation of the good and fine in humanity, intermittent or 
dormant under ordinary conditions, but dominant and all per- 
vading in the shadow of disaster.^ 

Abridged and sketchy as the foregoing necessarily is, it is 
perhaps full enough to have at least outlined the social 
phenomena of the major sort which a great disaster presents. 
These are found to be either abnormal and handicapping, 
such as, emotional parturition ; or stimulative and promotive, 
such as the dynamogenic reactions. In propositional form 
it may be stated that catastrophe is: attended by phenonema' 
of social psychology, which may either retard or promote 
social organization. 

In addition this chapter has discussed the role of catastro- 
phe in stimulating community service, in presenting models 
of altruistic conduct, in translating energy into action, in 
defend 'ng law and order, and in bringing into play the great 
social virtues of generosity, sympathy and mutual aid. 

1 Bicknell, Ernest P., " In the Thick of the Relief Work at San 
Francisco," Charities and the Commons, vol. xvi (June, 1906), p. 299. 

Catastrophe and Social Organization 

The organization of relief — The disaster protocracy — The transition 
from chaos through leadership — Vital place of communication — 
Utility of association — Imitation — Social pressure — Consciousness of 
kind — "Discussion — Circumstantial pressure — ^Climate — ^Geographic de- 
terminants — iClassification of factors. 

We have seen something of the disintegration which 
followed what has been called the " stun of the explosion." 
It included the abrupt flight from, and the emptying of, all 
the houses and centers of employment, the division O'f 
families, in the haste of the runnitig and the rescue, and the 
utter helplessness of thousands in the three basic necessities 
of life — food, raiment and a roof. There was the dislocation 
of transportation, the disorganization of business, and the 
problem of unemployment aggravated because not only was 
the work gone, but also with it the will to work. 

Social organization comes next in order and because its 
process was associated with the organization of relief — the 
first social activity — the sociological factors observed in the 
latter call for descriptive treatment. When the human 
organism receives an accident to one of its parts, automatic 
relief processes from within spring at once into being, and 
it is so with the body politic. This "w"j medicatriA^ 
naturae" assumes sovereign power over all the resources 
of the community. That part of the social sensorium which 
is most closely organized in normal hours, first recovers 
consciousness in disaster. In the case of Halifax it was 
59] 59 


the army. So was it in Sam Fruncisco, and in Chelsea. 
The army has the intensive concentration, the discipHne, 
the organization and often the resource of suppHes instantly 
available. Its training is of the kind for the endurance of 
shock. ^ It so happened that at Halifax large numbers of 
men in uniform were stationed where they could quickly 
respond to call. They were very soon under orders. The 
military authorities realized before midday, the part which 
the army should play. The firemen too were a social group 
which largely remained organized, and responded to the 
general alarm soon after the explosion. Their chief and 
deputy-chief had been instantly killed so they were leader- 
less, until one of the city controllers assumed command, and 
in spite of the wild exodus when the alarm of a second ex- 
plosion spread, these men remained at their posts. 

Play actors also^ display similar traits of collective be- 
havior. They are accustomed to think quickly, to live in 
restricted spaces, and to meet emergencies. Than the stage 
there is no better school. Each actor does his or her part 
and it alone. The Academy Stock Company, forsaking the 
school of Thespis for that of Esculapius, organized the 
first relief station established at Halifax. This was in 
operation about noon on the day of the disaster. 

Thus it came about that the soldiers, firemen and play 
actors may be called the disaster protocracy.' They were 
" the alert and effective," the most promptly reacting units 
in emergency. And it would appear that the part of 
society which is most closely organized and disciplined in 
normal periods first recovers social consciousness in dis- 

1 What has been said of soldiers is of course equally true of sailors. 
' Giddings, Franklin H., " Pluralistic Behaviour," American Journal 
of Sociology, vol. xxv, no. 4 (Jan., 1920), p. 539- 


It is the events of the first few hours which are of 
special interest to the sociologist. The word most descrip- 
tive of the first observable phenomenon was leadership. The 
soldiers were foremost in the work of rescue, of warning, 
of protection, of transportation and of food distribution. 
But the earliest leadership that could be called social, arising 
from the public itself, was that oni the part of those who 
had no family ties, much of the earliest work being doQie 
by visitors in the city. The others as a rule ran first to their 
homes to discover if their own families were in danger. 
From this body in a short while however many came for- 
ward to join in the activities of relief. 

As already said those with no social, family or property 
ties were among the first to begin relief work. But many 
of these started early simply because they were present 
where need arose. Many indeed of the uninjured folk at 
a distance seemed unable to realize the terribleness' of the 
immediate need in the stricken area. In fact, owing to the 
collapse of communication they did not for an appreciable 
time discover that there was an area more stricken than 
their own, and devoted themselves to cleaning up glass and 
the like. But within a quarter of an hour a hospital ship 
had sent ashore two landing parties with surgeons and 
emergency kits. With almost equal dispatch the passengers 
of an incoming train — ^^the railroad terminal at the time 
being in the north end of the city — were on hand, and were 
among the earliest first-aid workers. One, a Montreal man, 
was known individually to have rendered first aid to at 
least a half hundred of the wounded. 

It was early afternoon, perhaps five hours after the 
catastrophe, when a semblance of cooperative action in 
rescue work began. Previous to this the work had been done 
in a rapid and random fashion, a single ruin being dug 
through a second or even a third time. Then came the 


recognition of the utility of association/ Thereafter the 
searchers became parties each of which was detailed to go 
over a definite area. When a particular section had been 
covered it was sO' recorded. This process considerably ex- 
pedited the work in hand. Meanwhile relief was organized 
in other important directions. 

The vital place of communication in society was recog- 
nized at once. It is a major influence in association, and 
upon it in disaster depends the immediacy as well as the 
adequacy of relief. Connections had been cut by the ex- 
plosion and the outside world could only wait and wonder. 
How little real information filtered through is shown by 
the fact that at Truro, only sixty-two miles distant, the an- 
nouncement was made three hours after the explosion that 
the death roll would not bear mo^re than fifty names. 
Nevertheless within an hour after the explosion a telegraph 
company had a single line established, and with news of 
the disaster, communities everywhere took up the role of 
the Samaritan. 

While the great hegira was in progress another leader, 
a railroad official, drove rapidly out the Bedford Road and 
commandeered the first unbroken wire to Moncton. There- 
after all that the government railroad equipment could do 
was at the community's service. Meanwhile the dislocated 
railroad yards were being combed for a live engine and 
coaches in commission. A hospital train was put together 
and in less than four hours after the explosion a large 
number of injured people were being transported to Truro. 

Even before the rushing of the wounded to the hospitals 
a few began to realize the great human needs which would 
soon be manifest amiong the concourse O'f thousands who 
waited in helpless suspense upon the Common and the hill. 
Here they were en masse, a typical social aggregation, re- 

1 Tenney, Alvan A., Unpublished lectures on Social Organization. 


sponding to the primitive, gregarious instinct of the herd. 
''Like sheep they had flocked together too bewildered for 
consecutive thought." ^ Yet here ministrations of one sort 
or another came into spontaneous operation. Soon the 
military began raising white tents upon the field. One 
after another they rose, presenting the appearance of an huge 
encampment. The idea spread by imitation,^ the repetition 
of a model, — " the imitative response of many minds to 
the suggestive invention of one." One or two here and one 
or two there began to prepare the big church halls and 
other roomy institutional buildings for occupancy. Hastily 
the windows were patched up, the glass swept out, and no 
sooner had the danger of a second explosion passed, and the 
rumor of a possible roof reached the homeless, than 
they began to repair thither. At first each improvised shelter 
became a miniature clothing and food depot at well as a 
habitation. Then the idea spread of taking the refugees into 
such private homes as had fared less badly. Imitation is the 
foundation of custom. It became the thing to do. The 
thing to do is social pressure. It may be unwilled and un^ 
intended but it is inexorable. It worked effectively upon 
all who had 2n unu'sed room. Many sheltered upwards of 
a dozen for weeks; some, more. 

In the homes and shelters association of the like-minded 
soon came about through consciousness of kind. At first 
it was a very general consciousness which seemed to draw'i 
all together into a fellowship of suffering as victims of a 
common calamity. There was neither male nor female, just 
nor unjust, bond nor free. Men, women and little child- 
ren lay side by side in the large sleeping rooms and 
" shared each other's woes," for " the consciousness of 

1 Bell, McKelvie, A Romance of the Halifax Disaster (Halifax, 1918). 

2 Tarde, Gabriel, Les lois de Vimitation (N. Y., 1903), translation by 
E. C. Parsons, ch. i, p. 14. 


kind allays fear and engenders comradeship.^ Then fol- 
lowed requests for changes of location in the dormitories, 
and for changes of seats at thq dining tables. As various 
shelters sprang up, the religious element appeared. Ap- 
pH cations came for transfers from Roman Catholic insti- 
tutions to Protestant stations and vice versa. Even the 
politically congenial were only too ready to segregate when 
occasion offered. 

Discussion and agreement must precede all wise con^ 
certed volition. There mtist be " common discussion of 
common action." ^ Propositions must be " put forth " and 
talked over. There must be a " meeting of minds " and a 
" show of hands," and decisions made. There had been 
no preparedness. The city possessed not even a paper 
organization for such a contingency as a sudden disaster; 
so that during the most precious hours citizens and civic 
officials had to consult and map out a program as best 
the circumstances allowed. It was late afternoon on the 
day of the disaster when a tentative plan had been formu- 
lated in the City Hall. The newly formed committees 
could do but little utitil the? following dawn. 

Men at best are largely creatures of circumistance. In- 
numerable causes, small and great, conspire to incite social 
action. But in catastrophe the control of circumstantial 
pressure^ becomes almost sovereign in extent. The con^ 
ditions it brings about, while often delaying measures of in- 
dividual relief, account very largely for the rapidity of 
organization. While they limit they also provoke effort. 
The common danger constrains great numbers to " overlook 
many differences, to minimize many of their antagonisms 
and to combine their efforts." At Halifax the pressure 

^Giddings, op. cit., p. 396. 

'Bagehot, Walter, Physics and Politics (N. Y., 1884), p. 159, et seq. 

• Giddlngs, op. cit., p. 390. 


of indescribable suffering precipitated the medical and 
hospital arrangements which were the earliest forms of 
communal service. But it was the (meteorological con- 
ditions which commanded the most prompt attention to the 
consideration of shelter and clothing. The months ap- 
peared to have lost station and February to have come out 
of season. The following table gives the weather record for 
the seven days which followed the catastrophe.^ It is the 
record of a succession of snow, wind, cold and blizzard. 

Thursday, Dec. 6th. 9 a. m. Fair. Frozen ground. Light 
N. W. wind. No precipitation. Tem- 
perature: max. 39.2, min. 16.8. 
Friday, Dec. 7th. 9 a. m. N. E. wind, velocity 19. Snow 
falling. At noon N. W. gale. After- 
noon, blizzard conditions. 9 p. m. 
N. W. wind, velocity 34. Precipitation 
16.0 in. snow. Temperature: max. 
32.2, min. 24.8. 
Saturday, Dec. 8th. 9 a. m. N. W. wind, velocity 20. Inter- 
mittent sunshine. 9 p. m. N. W. wind, 
velocity 11. Precipitation 1.2 snow 
(in a. m.). Temperature: max. 29.8, 
min. 15. 

9 a. m. S. E. gale, velocity 39. Streets 
icy and almost impassable. 9 p. m. 
S. W. wind, velocity 27. Precipitation 
.99 rainfall (1.40 a. m. till noon). 
Temperature: max. 50.41, min. 14.6. 
9 a. m. S. W. wind, velocity 1 1 . After- 
noon, blizzard (worst in years). Knee- 
deep drifts. 9 p. m. W. wind, velocity 
20. Precipitation 5.6 snowfall (2 p. m. 
till 5.40 p. m.). Temperature: max. 
34.2, min. 16.8. 

*From information kindly supplied by D. L. Hutchinson, director of 
the iSt. John (N. B.) observatory, and F. B. Ronnan, Halifax Station. 

Sunday, Dec. 9th. 

Monday, Dec. loth. 


Tuesday, Dec. nth. 9 a. m. Clear. W. wind, velocity 18. 
9 p. m. W. wind, velocity 11. No 
precipitation. Temperature : max. 18.2, 
min. 6.6 
Wednesday, Dec. 12th. 9 a. m. N. W. wind, velocity, 15. 9 
p. m. N. E. wind, velocity 3. No pre- 
cipitation. Temperature: max. 17, 
min. 2. 

In consequence of otherwise unendurable conditions, the 
most rapid repairs were made to all habitable houses or 
(those possible of being made so'. The same was true of 
public buildings, hospitals, factories and warehouses. 
Moreover the same explanation accounts for the exodus of 
miany who sought for shelter tO' the countryside nearby ; and 
the many more who accepted the invitation of, and entrained 
for various Nova Scotian towns which became veritable 
" cities of refuge " to hundreds. The climate ^ decided 
the question of reconstruction in favor of temporary struc- 
tures; for it was a time of year when prompt rebuilding 
was out of the question. Climatic condiitions also seriously 
delayed the arrival of relief supplies, allowed but scanty 
/provision for many, kept somie from the depots of relief, 
or from surgical aid; and others standing in line in the 
bitter cold. It also- added seriously to the sanitation and 
shelter problem. But it speeded and spurred the workers 
to prevent the maximum of exposure and neglect. It called 
imperatively for the most effective system-, and many 
of the workable methods were hit upon under the stress of 
storm. An illustration of this may be found in the adop- 
tion of many food depots instead of one central $tation. 
Regional influence thus " fixes the possibilities of organiza- 
tion and collective effectiveness.'" The sociologist must 

^Semple, Ellen, Influences of Geographic Environment (N. Y., 1911), 
p. 607, et seq. 
'Giddings, op. cit., p. 389. 


study maps of lands and plans of cities. The location 
of the food stations at Halifax Was a matter of topography 
as we;re the lajter administration districts. The city is 
widely spread out. It has fifty more miles of street than 
a city of similar population in a neighboring province. Six 
depots were established for the public distribution of sup- 
plies/ situated so as to touch the entire needy population 
most effectively, and to equalize the groups to some degree. 
So too, in the matter of dressing stations, accessibility was 
a deciding factor. But even this system had to be supple- 
mented. Bread vans were driven hither and thither and wheni 
halted in the center of a s|treet were usually immediately 
surrounded. Thus social reorganization in catastrophe! 
witnesses to an urgency resident no less in space than in 
time and reemphasizes the importance placed upon the 
physical factors in sociology. 

Thus may be said to have come about the transiltioo from 
chaos to a semblance of comimtunity oirganization. Not the 
normal civil social order of pre-disaster days, but the estab- 
lishment of a species of collective behavior, and the organ- 
ization of relationships apparently Oif a quite different 
character. The difference was one which might be com- 
pared to that between a great relief camp and a city. But 
the difference was only superficial. Fundamentally there 
were to be seen the factors underlying all social organiza- 
tion. These have been already illustrated, and are classified 
as psychological, such as leadership, gregarious instinct, 
imitation, consciousnesis o-f kind, discussion, recognition of 
utility of association and custom; and as physical, includ- 
ing climate and topography.^ The conclusion was drawn* 

*For a period! of two weeks meals for 15,000 people were distributed 
every day. 

'Other sociological factors might also be illustrated, namely, (a) the 
biological, including, besides the density of population, the heredity and 


that the part of society which is most closely organized and 

disciplined in normality, first recovers consciousness in 

catastrophe, and the value of a militia organization in every 

>'t!ommunity is a practical corollary. This follows not only 

j Ibecause of the imperturbabiliity and the promptitude of 

1 reactiom, of an army in crisis, but also because! of the 

rapidity with which it can be mobilized, its value in pre- 

i j serving law and order, its authoritative control a*nd power to 

'punish, and because of the attending psychological effects 

'of orderly bearing and coolness in a time of general chaos, 

I bespeaking a care that is at once paternal and sympathetic. 

the physical and mental health of the inhabitants, (b) the equipmental 
factor, including available economic resources, general enlightenment, 
social surplus and institutional facilities for re-education, etc. {Vide 
ch, vii.) 

Catastrophe and Social Organization (Cont'd) 

The reorganization of the civil social order — Division of labor— <Re- 
sumption of normal activities^ — ^^State and voluntary associations — 
Order of reestablishment — Effects of environmental change — The 
play of imitation — The stimulus of lookers-on-^Social conservation. 

It is not necessary to repeat the fact, which the reader 
has already seen, that the process of complete social organ- 
ization was largely expedited by the organization of relief, 
and materially reacted upon by it. The community's " big 
men," the men of prominence, the mien of broad experience 
in civic and philanthropic work, the men who knew the re- 
sources of the city and had the prestige Ito command them, 
were deeply immersed in the relief work while the businessea 
and the departments of the shattered body politic waited or 
went forward in a more or less indifferent way. 

But this could be bojth economically and socially of ai 
temporary nature only. " Business and industry must be 
set agoing. Church and school must resume the ordinary 
routine. One by one the broken threads of the former 
everyday life, the life of custom and habit must be recon- 
nected." The division of social labor ^ is a law of 
society. It is traceable back to the primitive household 
itself, and is a result of underlying differences. The 
great " cause which deteimines the manner by which work 
is divided is diversity of capacity." With the advent of the 
social specialists at Halifax a major division of function 

^ Durkheim, £mile, De la division du travail social (Paris, 1893). 
69I 69 


began. The respcwisibility for the relief work having been 
delegated to a special social group, public thought and 
public men were free to turn their energies to the restora- 
tion of a normal society. 

But it was the reorganization rather than the organiza- 
tion of relations which the sociologist observes to have first 
retaken place. The stage was all laid. It was necessary only 
[ Jor the actors in Ithe drama to resumie their places. The 
old " parts" awaited them, although many of the "proper- 
ties " were no more. Or to use the nuore sociological jargon 
one might say, there was still the homogeneity of stock, 
still a dominating like-mindedness, sitill a protocracy, still 
a group of mores to serve as media of social self-control. 
^ Indeed miost of the former complexities of social structure 
remained. But this was only potentially true. The social 
relations based upon the underlying factors had to be resumed. 
Moreover the resumption was accompanied by various changesi 
the significance of which will appear in later discussion. 
The order of the resumption of normal activities is of unusual 
social interest as are also the influences which were in play 
and the changes which etiisued. It may be objected that 
such a tabulation is unfair to the various socially comipon- 
enit groups and that the special exigencies of each preclude 
comparison. But at least one index of the bent of the 
social mind is the separation of those activities which must 
needs be first rehabilitated, from those which can wait. 
Organizing genius was not entirely occupied with relief in 
the ordinary sense of the term. 

Ecmiomic vigor is one of the most vital things in a comh 
munity's life. It is in a sense fundamental not only to 
happiness and general well-being but accompanies and con- 
ditions the cultural institutions, religious, educational oiid 
aesthetic. It is not surprising then that Commercial activity- 
was in actual fact the earliest aspect of life to resume a 


semblance of normality. Naturally public utilities were 
first on the list, for these include systems of communication 
without which society can hardly be. Reference has al- 
ready been made to the speed with which a makeshift service 
was established, but our purpose here is to record the resump- 
tion of normal activity. 

Wire communication is led out from the city by pole lines. 
Many of these had been demolished, Or broken at the cross- 
beam. Clerks had been injured and instruments damaged. 
In spite of these odds one was reconnected within an hour, 
and by the evening of the day of the disaster six direct 
multiplex wires to Montreal, three to St. John and one each 
to Bostom and New York, had been established. Upwards 
of a thousand messages an hour went forth the first week. 
The work became normal about December twentieth. 

The telephone system suffered the loss of the entire north- 
ern exchange and of the harbor cable — broken through ships 
dragging anchor — a total material damage of one hundred 
thousand dollars. Its personnel was also depleted. Neverthe- 
less telephone business may be said to have been generally 
resumed on the seventh, the day after the disaster, and the 
load of local traffic soon attained over one hundred and 
twenty percent above its average figure. Telephone service 
was absolutely suspended for only about two hours, — ^the 
period of prohibition from buildings, — and the cable tele- 
phone for about three days. Messages of a social character 
were tabooed for several weeks, when the work again becamie 

The illumination service was quickly restored. The 
company was able to give partial light and some service 
from noon on the sixth. Periods of intermittent darkness 
however, were not unusual. Gas service was off until De- 
cember the ninth — the top of the gasometer having been 
broken and two hundred thousand cubic feet deflected from 


the mains into the air — when repairs were completed and on 
the tenth the service resumed. On the fourteenth gas and 
electric light service became normal. 

Railroad communication had been dislocated. The ex- 
plosion occurred in the vicinity of the principal sidings and 
vitrJ portions of the system. Three miles of the main 
ruad were buried in debris, the station wrecked, equipment 
damaged, and crews scattered searching for their dead. 
In spite of this, as already noted, a hospital train was sent 
out in the early afternoon of the disaster day and incom- 
ng trains were switched to their new tracks leading to the 
south end terminal. On the evening of the day following 
the disaster — Friday — the first regular train for Montreal 
left the city. Two days later the main lines were clear 
and the first train left the old passenger station on 
Saturday evening. By Monday the full passenger service 
was resumed, to and from- the station. Eight days after 
the catastrophe all branches of the service were working 
and conditions were fairly normal. 

The rolling stock of the street-car system sustained much 
damage. Some of the employees were injured and others 
were unavailable. A scant service was restored at noon on 
December the sixth. By six o'clock of the seventh, tram 
lines in the north section were able to resume an eight-car 
service. Then the blizzard came and tied up all lines. It 
was not until Sunday, December ninth, that it was possible 
to resume any semblance of car service. On the twenty- 
second of December, twenty-two cars were operating — • 
•twenty-seven is the normal number, — ^but the shortage of 
men made it difficult to operate the full number. The 
service was not entirely normal for some months owing to 
the severe storms all winter which tied up the lines and 
caused delavs, and to the shortage of men to handle the cars. 

The newspaper offices by the employment of hand com- 


positors were able to prcxiuce papers on December seventh 
but in limited editions and of reduced size. This was 
owing to the dependency of the linotypes upon the gas 
service which had failed. The normal-size production re- 
commenced in a week's time.^ 

The postal service was completely disorganized and was 
not restored to any extent until Monday the tenth of De- 
cember. Owing to the innumerable changes of address, as 
well as many other reasons, it was weeks before there was 
a normal and reliable distribution of mails. 

The banks were open for business the morning following 
the catastrophe, just as soon as the doors and windows were 
put in. Traffic of relief trains coming in affected the 
ordinary trade for three months, more or less, but princi- 
pally outside of the city. In the city all business in the 
banks went on as usual the day after the explosion. 

Two instances are selected at random to illustrate the 
resumption of general business activity. Out of much; 
wreckage and a forty-thousand-dollar loss one company 
restarted paint and varnish making on January second. A 
large clothing establishment, had been badly damaged. The 
factory and all branches of the business were running in 
five weeks — January tenth. Machines were in operation with 
shortened staffs at an earlier date. 

The regular meetings of the City Council recommenced 
on December twentieth, and were held regularly from that 
time on. The Board of Trade rooms were not badly 
damaged and there was no cessation of work or meetings. 
The theatres were speedily repaired and resumed business 
on Friday, December the twenty-eighth. The Citizen's 
Library was a few weeks closed for the circulation of books, 

1 In the great Baltimore fire of 1904 the Baltimore Sun, by remarkable 
enterprise was gotten out at Washington, 45 miles distant, and did not 
miss a single issue. 


and used in relief service as a food depot, thus ministering 
to a hunger which is more imperious than that of mind in 
the hour of catastrophe. 

Of the churches several were entirely destrayed. Ini all 
cases the edifices were injured, organs disordered and win- 
dows shattered. Parishes were in some instances almost 
wiped out. In a single congregation four hundred and four 
perished. In another niearly two hundred were killed, the 
remainder losing their property. In a third, of the one 
hundred and eight houses represented in the congregation 
only fourteen were left standing. Hurried efforts were 
made to safeguard church property, but church services were 
not generally resumed until the second Sunday.^ Even 
then the congregations were small and the worshipping- 
places were not in all cases churches. Theatres, halls and 
other buildings housed m,any a religious gathering. While 
the restoration of churches waited, clergy and church 
workers gave themselves unremittingly to the relief of the 
needy, the succor of the injured and the burial of the dead. 
Their intimate knowledge of family conditions was of in- 
estimable value in the relief administration. Sunday 
schools were reassembled as accommodations permitted, but 
it was many months before the attendances approximated 
the normal. 

The school system was badly disorganized. Three 
buildings were totally destroyed, and all were rendered un- 
inhabitable for some time. The lotss was approximately 
eight-hundred thousand dollars. The members of the staff 
were given over to relief committees, registration, nursing 
and clothing service. Early in March, about three months 
after the explosion, arrangements were completed whereby 

1 On the first Sunday, December ninth at eleven o'clock Archdeacon 
Armitage conducted Divine service in St. Paul's Church, and the same 
afternoon this edifice was used by the congregation of AH Saints 


nearly all the children in the city could attend classes. The 
double-session system was introduced to accomplish this. 
Rooms were necessarily over-crowded and ventilation im- 
paired. By May eighth, fifteen school buildings were ini 

Progress m reopening schools is indicated by the follow- 
ing schedule. 

Dec. 10 classes in one institution 

Jan. 7 " " three emergency shelters 

Jan. 8 " "a church hall 

Jan. 14 " " five school buildings 

Jan. 17 " " one institution 

Jan. 21 " " two school buildings 

Jan. 22 " " one school building 

Jan. 24 " " one school building 

Feb. I " " one institution 

Feb. 25 " " two school buildings 

Mar. 16 " " one school building 

Apr. 8 " *' one school building 

May 8 " " one school building 

May 20 " " two portable schools 

The community as finally reorganized differed materially 
from that which had preceded. The picture of the 
conditions at a considerably later period will be fully pre- 
sented elsewhere. Here will be noted only a few social 
effects immediately apparent a:nd due to the temporary en- 
vironmental conditions. 

Owing to the number of men required for reconstruction 
work the Tramway Company found it very difficult to get 
a full complement of men back into the service. As a re^ 
suit they took into consideration the advisability of em- 
ploying women conductors, and finally adopted this plan. 

At the .time of the explosion a heated election campaign 
was in progress. Then representative men of both political 

1 Quinn, J. P., Report of Board of School Commissioners for City of 
Halifax, 1918. 


parties urged their followers to drop the election fight and 
the election was deferred and later rendered unnecessary 
by the withdrawal of one of the candidates. 

The darkening of the water-front, the shading of win- 
dows, and other war-protective measures against the 
submarine menace, were given little attention for many 
weeks, and the coming into operation of the Military Ser- 
vice Act was plostponed. 

The establishment of relief stations, and later, of the 
temporary relief houses in the central and southern portion 
of the city brought about a very unusual commingling of 
classes, as well as a readjustment of membership in schools, 
parishes and various institutions. 

Club life, social life, lodge and society " evenings " were 
for a considerable period tabooed, because of a general 
sentiment against enjoyment under the existing conditions 
as well as to lack of accommodation and of time. 

The clamor for arrests, for the fixing of responsibility 
for the disaster, and for the meting out of punishment was 
for a long time in evidence, but never received complete 

The difficulties of restoration of school attendance re- 
peated the experience of the Cherry disaster, and the Truant 
Officer had a very strenuous time owing to the fact that so 
many people had changed their addresses. 

A number of " special policemen " were recruited from 
citizens of all ranks, and this force materially assisted the 
members of the regular department. Owing to the large! 
influx of workmen following the catastrophe, as well as 
for other reasons the work of the detectives was greatly 

The survivors of two neighboring congregations, although 
belonging to different denominations, united in erecting a 

1 Hanrahan, F., Report of Chief of Police, Halifax, 1918. 


temporary church building — their respective churches hav- 
ing been destroyed — and have since worshipped together — ai 
demonstration of the practicabiHty of church imion under 
circumstantial pressure. 

The display apartments of a furniture concern were; 
utilized as actual living rooms by refugees for a period, 
while at the same time business was in operation through- 
out the rest of the establishment. 

The necessary functioning of relief activities, seven days 
in the week, the keeping of stores open on Sundays and the 
general disorganization of the parishes was reflected for ai 
long period in a changed attitude upon the part of many 
towards Sabbath observance. 

German residenfts of the city were immediately placed 
under arrest when the disaster occurred, but all were later 
given their freedom. 

The citizens of Halifax were almost entirely oblivious 
to the progress of the war and other matters of world in- 
terest, for many days after the disaster. 

The reversion to the use of candles, oil lamps and lanterns 
was an interesting temporary effect. 

The rapidity of the reorganization, as well as the sub- 
sequent expansion, noted later, was largely effected by the 
social law of imitation already noticed. Many of the con- 
ditions affecting the rate of imitation were present. There 
was a crisis, there was necessity, there was trade and business 
advantage, social pressure, public demand, shibboleths — " al 
new Halifax " for example^ — but above all there was a multi- 
tude of models. The extent and scale of the rebuilding 
program in one area, the civic-improvement plans which 
accompanied the work in that district, the record time in 
which relief houses were completed, the marvellous speed 
at which the demolition' companies cleared away the de- 
bris acted as models and stimuli to all inhabitants. The 


process of speeding-up spread like a great contagion, until the 
most hardened pessimist began tO' marvel at the recuperation 
daily enacted before his eyes. 

Among the models thus presented may be mentioned that 
of the rapid establishment of the morgue. This, the largest 
ever organized in Canada, was fitted up by forty soldiers and 
mechanics in the brief period of a day and a half. Another 
instance was that of the American Hospital. " At nine a. m. 
Bellevue was an officer's mess. By ten p. m. the sam6 
day it was a first-class sixty-six bed hospital, stocked with 
food and medicine and, in charge of Major Giddings; " it ex- 
pressed a veritable " triumph of organizing ability." In the 
record time of three months, Messrs. Cavicchi and Pagano, 
with a maximum, strength of nine hundred and fifty men 
and two hundred and seventy horses working ten hours a 
day removed every vestige of the debris in the devastated 
area. Apartments were built at the rate of one an hour. 
Motor lorries multiplied so rapidly that visitors said there 
had been an outbreak of " truck fever " in the place. 

By the stimulus of models, such as these, fresh vitality 
and motive were imparted to the members of the community. 
Halifax became busy as never before. New homes, new 
stores, new piers, new banks, replaced the old as if by magic. 
Men worked desperately hard. 

An influence which must not be left unrecorded because 
of its continuity of functioning is that of the stimulus of 
lookers-on. More than two hundred cities in all parts of 
the world had contributed to the reconstruction, and citizens 
of Halifax knew they were not unobserved. Articles, lec- 
tures and serm'ons were telling forth to interested thousands 
how a city blown tO' pieces, swept by fire, buried underi 
ice and snow, and deluged by rain, was a city courageous 
beyond words. During the month of December, five lead- 
ing periodicals in Canada and twelve in the United States 


arranged for articles and photographs descriptive of the 
city's advantages commercial and residential.^ Halifax be- 
came a world-known city. This added still further spur 
to action. Halifax simply had to make good. She was 
bonded to the world. 

There are two considerations which may appropriately 
bring this chapter to a close. The first arises naturally 
from! what has been said, namely, that in catastrophe it is 
only after division of functioni delegates to a special group 
the responsibility for relief work that public thought is 
directed to the resumption of normal society. The second 
is a practical deduction — that of social conservation. Every 
community should possess a permanent vigilance committee. 
There should be an emergency procedure on paper with 
duties outlined to which pledged men may be immediately 
drafted. Only in this way can social economy be pre- 
served until the arrival of experienced disaster authorities 
from a distance. "^ 

1 SaiMiders, E, A., Report of Halifax Boafd of Trade, 1918. 


Catastrophe and Social Organization (Cont'd) 

The contribution of social service — Its four- fold character — The prin- 
ciples of relief — Rehabilitation — Phases of application-^Criticisms — 
A new principle — Social results — ^Summary for future guidance. 

We have already seen that there are certain determining 
factors in catastrophe and its social results. There is not 
only the level of the general capability and culture of the 
community, its power to meet crises and to readjust itself, 
the scarcity or plenitude of its resources, but also the pre- 
sence or absence of " men skilled in dealing with crises." ^ 
In the past, disaster-^stricken communities have had such 
men or have had them not. The disasters of the future — 
with the exception of those far remote from civilization — 
may depend on the presence of such leaders. They will 
come from near and far. The contribution of social service 
is the contribution of men skilled in dealing with crises. 
Relief thus becomes " an incident of progress and a social 
policy." We are now to notice this further determining 
factor in catastrophe as it applied itself to Halifax. 

During the first week at Halifax not only did each day 
bring its contribution of relief supplies in the way of food 
and clothing, but each day brought also men and women of 
skill and experience in social work to place freely their 
vision and ability at the service of the community.* 

1 Thomas, William I., Source Book of Social Origins (Chicago, 1909)* 
Introduction, p. 18. 

2 J. H. Falk, an expert in charge of the social welfare work in 
Winnipeg; Miss Rathbum of Toronto, Mrs. Burrington of the Y. W. 

80 [80 


The Halifax disaster was one of the first of great extent 
which has occurred since the principles cf relief have been 
authoritatively written. No other community has ex- 
perienced their application so; fully or sO' promptly. One 
of the workers publicly stated that " Halifax was further 
ahead iti relief work in two weeks than Lynn had been in a 
month." It was said that : 

Never before in any extensive disaster were the essential 
principles of disaster relief so quickly established as at Halifax. 
In less than twelve hours from the time the American Unit 
from Boston arrived, the necessary features of a good working 
plan were accepted by the local committee.^ 

This was, it is true, sixty hours after the disaster, but never- 
theless the advent of -the social specialists brought to Hali- 
fax that something which was wanting when the citizens, 
astounded at the magnitude of their task, wondered just 
how and where to begin. When Mr. Ratshesky^ of the 
Public Safety Committee of the State of Massachusetts, 
came into the room in the City Hall where a dozen or so 
were gathered in counsel, already overwrought with fatigue, 

C, A., Toronto. Christopher Lanz, under whose guidance the re- 
habilitation work after the Salem fire was brought to a successful con- 
clusion; Katherine McMahon, Head worker of the Social Service De- 
partment of the Boston Dispensary, Lucy Wright, formerly Superin- 
tendent for the Mass. Commission for the Blind; Elizabeth Richards 
Day, Organizer and for many years Head Worker of the Social Service 
Department of the Boston Dispensary; E. E. Allen, Superintendent of 
the Perkins Institute for the Blind, C. C Carstens, Superintendent of 
the Mass. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; John F. 
Moors, president of the Associated Charities of Boston, who was in 
■charge of the iRed Cross relief following the Salem and Chelsea fires ; 
William H. Pear, Agent of the Boston Provident Association; J. 
Prentice Murphy, General Secretary of the Boston Children's Aid 
Society; A. C. Ratshesky, Vice-chairman of the Public Safety Com- 
mittee of the State of Massachusetts. 

1 Carstens, C. C, " From the Ashes of Halifax," Survey, vol. xxxix, 
no. 13 (Dec. 2%, 1917), p. 361. 

2 With Mr. Ratshesky were iMr. John F. Moors, and Major Giddings. 


it was the coming of a friend in need. It was soon clean 
that the new-comers had had unusual experience in dealing 
with other disasters. At once everyone took new heart. 
Only nine hours later, the Citizens' Relief Commiittee was 
ready, and a working plan adopted; and from- it grew up 
a wonderful system worthy of study by all students of 
emergency relief. Thus social service broke into the midst 
of the great calamity not as a mere adjunct to what was 
already well devised, but as a central and deciding element, 
justifying its faith by its work, and its presence by its 
wisdom in grappling with an' inexorable need. 

Of course there had already been a commendable essay 
toward the solution of what had to be done. Applications for 
relief came pouring in two hours after the explosion, and 
industrious workers had already been dispensing to hurt- 
dreds. On Friday morning volunteers were early at the 
City Hall, among them many of the public school teachers. 
A species of organization had already begun, but under con- 
gested and the least favorable conditions. A large number 
of investigators had gone forth, giving information and 
relief and bringing bock reports of the missing, needy, help- 
less and injured. The Salvation Army had commenced a 
program of visits to follow up appeals. Clothing of all 
kinds was pouring into every station where the refugeesi 
were gathered together. The Canadian Red Cross was 
already active. But with the coming of the American Unit,^ 
the transfer of the work to a new headquarters upon their 
advice, and the adoption of a complete plan of organiza- 
tion,* the systematic relief work imay be said to have in 
reality begun. 

1 The Public Safety Committee of Massachusetts and the Boston Unit 
of the American iRed Cross. 

* The scheme as finally decided upon consisted of a small managing 
committee with sub-committees in control of food, clothing, shelter, fuel,, 
burial, medical relief, transportation', information, finance and rebuilding. 


iThere was a four-fold contribution made by those ex- 
perienced in relief and disaster organization. The initial 
service was the establishment of a policy of centralization 
of authority and administration into otie official r'elie^ 
organization. This policy comprised first the coordination 
of the relief work into one central relief committee, second 
the placing of the relief funds from all sources into the 
hands of one finance committee, third the granting of relief 
by one central management, all records being cleared 
through one registration bureau, fourth the giving of em- 
ergency relief in food, clothing and other things immediately 
without waiting for the perfection O'f the relief organization, 
and fifth, the appointing of a small managing committee to 
carry out and interpret the general policy determined upon 
by the executive committee. 

If the first great service rendered was that of centraliza- 
tion;, the second was that of effecting cooperation. The 
latter was only partially successful. There was at first an 
inevitable overlapping, especially in the matter oif visiting, 
some families being visited and subjected to interview a 
dozen times. Failing to' achieve complete coordination, 
the central committee endeavored to limit duplication so^ far 
as possible. An invitation extended to the Salvation Army 
about December eleventh, to place their visitors at the dis- 
posal of the general staff of visitors was declined and it was 
not until January first that this organization fully coordinated 
with the rehabilitation committee. It was about this time 
also that the Roman Catholic clergy agreed to cooperate 
in the registration plans. On December eighteenth th6 
School Board gave official cooperation by assigning fifteen 
school teachers as volunteer visitors under the direction of 
the rehabilitation committee. Another obstacle to the com- 
plete systematization of the relief work was the most 
generous but independent distribution of clothing and sup- 


plies from the Eaton Center, and from the station established 
by a charitable Boston lady. The Protestant and Roman 
Catholic clergy, as well as the Salvation Army and other 
organizations received supplies in bulk and distributed to 
their constituents often with hasty or inadequate investiga- 

There was also at times lack of cooperation among the 
official committees themselves. Friction and crises arose 
from' time to time, which were only sitopped short of 
scandal. They were the consequence either of assumption 
of authority upon the part of the under-committees, of in- 
effectiveness of leadership, or of unfamiliarity with the 
principles of relief. There w^ere also' other problems, some 
of which it may be useful ito note!. One of these was the 
problem of the wisest use of local leaders who knew and 
could interpret the local point of view and method of 
doing things. Another that of the absorption of volun- 
teers, many of whom could not be expected to understand 
the nature of scientific relief service. 

A third great contribution of social service was that of 
education in the principles of disaster relief. It was the 
problem! of getting the idea of social conservation under- 
stood and established in a community which had not given 
the subject any thought,, and which was quite unfamiliar 
with the ideals and purposes in view. This was the cause 
of much delaying of plans, overlapping in giving relief, and 
giving without substantial inquiry. It explained also the 
reason for the abundant criticism which arose. When 
criticism came there was, consequently, no well-informed 
body of public opinion to which to anchor the* committee's 

Educational effort on this subject may be said to have 
begun with a masterful presentation of the nature of re- 
habitation at the meeting of the managing committee six 


days after the disaster. Here was set forth and illustrated 
the kind of service required and the desirability of such 
work was at once recognized and inaugurated. Thus the 
idea of rehabilitation filtered through toi the vario^us depart- 
ments. Trained leaders imparted it to the untrained volun- 
teers. Church, school and club caught something of its 
spirit and one of the permanent social results of the disaster 
remains in the partial socialization of institutions. It was 
this original absence of socialization, this lack of under- 
standing of the true nature of disaster psycholo'gy and of 
the accepted mi^thods of relief that at first made the com- 
munity so utterly dependent upon the visiting social workers. 
It may be safely concluded as a fundamental principle that 
the self-dependence of a community in adversity is furthered 
by the socialization of existing institutions. 

The principles of disaster relief cover three stages, first, 
that of the emergency period; second, that oif the period of 
transition; and third, that of rehabilitation. These prin- 
ciples in order of application may be thus briefly sum- 
marized : 

1. The coordination of all the relief agencies arising, into 
one central relief service. 

2. The directing of relief funds from all sources to one 
bonded finance committee. 

3. The establishment of a temporary com^mittee only, at 
first, — the more permanent organization to await the counsel 
of specialists in disaster relief, an early call having been sent 
for experienced workers. 

4. The avoidance of, or the early abolition oif mass 
treatment, e. g. bread lines, food depots, etc., as detrimental 
to a psychology of helpfulness and as calculated tO' delay 
a return to self-support. 

5. The issuing of orders for supplies on local merchants 
to follow mass-provisioning. 


6. The establishment of a policy of renewable cash grants 
for short periods until temporary aid is discontinued. 

7. Continuance of relief upon a temporary basis until 
all claimants are registered and the aggregate of available 
aid ascertained, and the needs, resources and potentialities of 
self-help studied. 

8. An early effort to influence public opinion as to the 
wisdom of careful policies and critical supervision. 

9. The famiily tO' be considered the unit of treatment.^ 

10. A substitution of local workers wherever wise, and 
the use of local leaders in responsible positions. 

11. The publication of a report, including a critical survey 
of policies and methods employed, and a discriminating re- 
cord of the social results arising therefrom, the mistakes 
made and other information of value for future emergencies. 
This report in justice to contributors to include a financial 

The fourth great service rendered was that of the estab- 
lishment of rehabilitation policies and methods. The work 
of organizing for rehabilitation, as noted above, did not begin 
until the sixth day after the disaster. On the eighteenth of 
December the first chairman was appointed. There fol- 
lowed a developmental period during which little progress 
was made, save in the familiarizing oi committees with the 
object of rehabilitation. " The object of rehabilitation " 
says J. Byron Deacon " is to assist families to recover from 
the dislocation induced by the disaster, and to regain their 
accustomed social and economic status. Emergency aid 
takes into account only present needs; rehabilitation looks 
to future welfare." ^ This was the purpose constantly kept 

1 " During the emergency stage of relief the people are dealt with in 
large groups with little attention to the special needs of individuals . . . 
in the rehabilitation stage the family or the individual becomes the unit 
of consideration." — (Bicknell, E. P., "Disaster Relief and its Problems," 
National Conference of Charities and Corrections, sess. xxxvi, 1909, 
p. 12.) 

2 Deacon, J. Byron, Disasters (N. Y., 1918), ch. v, p. 137. 


in view. The division of work indicates the nature of the 
task attempted. The division provided for an advisor, a 
chief of staff, a supervisor of home visitors, a bureau of 
application and registration, an emergency department, a 
department of medical social service and a visitor in 
children's work. Later a children's sub-committee was in- 

There was first the record and registration made and 
verified of all the sufferers and those in need. Over six 
thousand names of registratits resulted. Five districts or 
divisional areas were arranged for convenience and thorough- 
ness of administration. One of these covered all cases 
outside of the city itself.^ In charge of each district was 
a supervisor, and under the supervisor the various depart- 
ment heads. Trained workers were drawn into the service 
and their work and that of the volunteer visitors was 
directed by capable supervisors. The administration of re- 
lief was put upon a discriminating " case system'." 

There were four important phases in which the work 
developed; the work of general rehabilitation, the medical 
social work, the children's problem: and the problem of the 

The general rehabilitation service was carried on with 
varied success. It secured valuable intelligence for all com- 
mittees and gradually increased in working power and ef- 
ficiency. How many were put upon their f ee(t again through 
its kindly counsel and careful cooperation cannot be esti- 
mated or told in figures. 

The problem of medical social service is to learn the 
social condition of the patient, and to relate that knowledge! 

^ The town of Dartmouth on the Eastern side of Halifax harbor also 
suffered very seriously in the explosion. It had its own relief organi- 
zation under the very capable chairmanship of ex-mayor A. C. John- 
stone. The nature of the relief work there did not differ essentially 
from that in Halifax. 


to his imedical condition, in order that restoration to heahh 
and return to normal family and commu'nity relationships 
shall go hand in hand. A division of medical social service 
became active a week after the disaster, its workers becom- 
ing attached to the several emergency hospitals within the 
city itself and those established in nearby towns. It had 
as well a working relationship with the military and the 
permanent Halifax hospitals. Three thousatLd patients 
were cared for in twelve Halifax hospitals alone. Trained 
medical social workers interviewed eight hundred. The 
one question to which they sought an answer was : " How 
shall these patients be brought back again as fully as possibli^ 
into normal lives and relationships. ? " Having obtained 
an answer as best they could, the effort was made to help 
and relieve to the fullest extent that service and science 
made possible. 

The contribution of medical social service was two-fold, 
immediate assistance and education. By the latter service^ 
which represents the more permanent value to the com- 
munity, very valuable information and guidance was given 
to the Halifax Medical Society and the children's and nurs- 
ing interests. The improvements resulting from these ef~ 
forts cannot fail to make " follow-up " and " after-care "' 
important considerations in the public health a:nd dispensary 
work of the future. 

Immediate assistance was given by the medical social 
service in six ways : 

1. Arranging for clothing and shelter prior to discharge 
from hospital. 

2. Interviews to understand medical social needs. 

3. Arranging about eye problems with the committee on 
the blind, children's problems with the children's com- 
mittee, family problems with the rehabilitation com- 
mittee, etc. 


4. Making a census of the handicapped, and classifying 
the returns. 

5. Placing responsibility for follow-up and after-care. 

6. Intensive case work where social problems involved a 
medical situation. 

Dr. M. M. Davis, Jr. Director of the Boston Dispeinsary, 
writes of the medical social service as follows : 

It may well be concluded that no organization or " unit " 
formed to deal with a flood, fire or explosion or disaster, can 
hereafter be regarded as complete unless in addition to doctors, 
nurses, relief workers and administrators there is also a due 
proportion of trained medical social workers. If twelve years 
ago medical social service received its baptism, Halifax has 
been its confirmation day.^ 

The children's service was thorough, as it should have 
been. If the measure of success in disaster relief is the 
treatment which the children receive, Halifax relief was 
above reproach. The children's laws of the province are 
carefully drawn and adequate, the Superinttendent of 
Neglected and Delinquenit Children is a man of singular 
ability and has wide powers. He became chairman of a 
strong children's comm;ittee with which were associated, 
besides representatives O'f the children's institutions, two 
child-welfare workers of high reputation. This committee 
came in contact with upwards of five hundred families, 
including more than fifteen; hundred children. Their 
work dealt with the special problems listed below. Mond 
permanent supervision was assimiied by the Government 
Commission about five months after the disaster. The 
modem principle of the widest possible child-placing was 
encouraged, the eflFort being to keep children with parents 

1 Davis, Michael M., Jr., " Medical Social Service in a Disaster," 
Survey, vol. xxxix, no. 25 (March 2^, 1918), p. 675. 


and wherever necessary to subsidize familes rather than in- 

The work of the children's committee consisted of 

1. Getting urgent temporary repairs made to existing 
children's institutions. 

2. Investigating cases to ascertain if children were in 
proper custody and receiving proper care. 

3. Procuring necessary articles of clothing, etc, for 

4. Hunting for " missing " children, identifying *' un- 
claimed " children, and restoring children (to their 

5. Interviewing hundreds of people who were: (a) hun- 
ting for lost children; (b) wishing to adopt home- 
less children; (c) arranging for the care O'f children. 

6. Attending to a large correspondence, mostly regard- 
ing the adoption of children, for which upwards of a 
thousand applications were received. 

7. Arranging for and supervising the transfer of children 
from hospitals, shelters, etc., the committee in most 
cases having sent some one to accompany the children. 

8. Arranging for temporary maintenance, permanent 
care, pensiofns and compensations or allowances for 
children, including the finding of permanent homes. 

9. Locating and referring to the proper agencies a number 
of wounded children. 

10. Getting possession of children unlawfully taken pos^ 
session of by improper persons. 

11. Arranging for the proper guardianship of certain 

The problem of the blind, was a special feature of the 
Halifax disaster. Blindness frequently resulted from the 

1 Blois, Ernest H., Report of Superintendent of Neglected and Delin- 
quent Children (Halifax, 1918), p. no. 


blizzard of glass which caused so great a percentage of the 
wounds. In large proportion the wounded were women who 
were engaged in their household duties. The rehabilitation 
of the blind presented problemis of care and retraining upon 
which was concentrated the skill of three superintendents of 
important institutions for the blind as well as other special- 
ists and workers. The presence in Halifax of a school for 
the blind with a capable president facilitated greatly an 
early grappling with the problem. The contributions of 
the social workers were chiefly of the character already 
indicated such as that of general medical social service. 
There were reported on March first, six hundred and thirty- 
three registrants/ but owing to the difficulties of registra- 
tion this figure remains inexact. 

Rehabilitation "takes into account the feelings as well 
as the material requirements of the bereaved families." An 
additional phase for social workers is therefore mortuary 
service. Here is required an exceedingly delicate ministry 
for which few are qualified. It includes quiet cooperation 
in the painful process of identification, a sympathetic care 
for those who succumb to shock or grief, and helpful direc- 
tion regarding the necessary steps to be taken, in interment. 
At Halifax this presented a remarkable opportunity for 
service, and an experienced Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation worker from Toronto attended in such capacity. 

There is still another secondary phase which must be re- 
ferred to as not being without social and moral results, — 
that of relief of animals. For the sheltering of homeless 
animials, the dressing of wounds, and the humane dispatch 
of the badly injured, specially designated gifts had been re- 
ceived. This work received the attention of the Society 
for the Prevention of Cruelty. 

It will be useful as reference data to present here the 

1 Fraser, Sir Frederick, Report of. 


nature Oif the criticism to which careful supervision gave 
rise. It was of the most trenchant character, and it cen- 
tered about the alleged over-emphasis which seemed to be 
placed on system ^ and deltailed investigations inflicted 
upon persons of whom many were still suffering from de- 
privation and from' shock, and who were unused to- the 
cross-examination methods of expert social diagnosticians. 
Often the thoroughness of the records seemed to the sufferers 
to be the more emphasized part of the proceedings. When 
all classes of people found themselves in need, there were 
naturally many who deeply resented being treated so palpably 
as " cases." But theirs was a choice which left but little 
regard for personal wishes or sensibilities. It is regrettable 
however to have tO' say that the cause of social service 
did not receive in the community the much larger repute 
which its magnificent work justified, chiefly because the in- 
numerable " typewriters, card catalogues, involved indexes, 
and multifarious office equipment " ^ were not made less 
obtrhjsive. The merest touch of "cold professionalism" 
soon became fuel for the burning disapproval which spread 
through the city regarding the methods of relief.® Letters 
to the press gave vent to the indignation of the sufferers. 
One of the judges of the Supreme Court was as outspoken as 
anyone. In criticizing the food-distribution system he 
wrote very plainly of the " overdose of business efficiency 
and social service pedantry." Why should needy families 

1 The reader may contrast with this the early days of the reHef at the 
Johnstown flood " where two windows were set apart from which cloth- 
ing and boots were being thrown over the heads of the crowd, and 
those having the longest arms and the stoutest backs seemed tO' be getting 
the most of it"; and where almoners passed through the streets handing 
" ten dollar bills to everyone whom they met." 

2 Johnstone, Dwight, The Tragedy of Halifax (in MS.). 

3 There was however no definite organization of the dissatisfied as 
actually took place at the Slocum Disaster. 


be required, he asked, to go through a personal visit and 
reexamination at the office every week, before receiving a 
renewal order for food. Such things were not easily un- 
derstood or explained. It became increasingly felt that such 
discriminating and tardy administration of provisions was 
not the will of the innumerable donors who so spontaneously 
forwarded the generous aid. It was not, so the criticism 
ran, for the committee to detain and delay the needy re- 
cipients for the mere sake of preventing duplication and for 
the sake of the niceties of case records. At a public meet- 
ing in Wards Five and Six, it was charged that " too much 
red tape had been insisted upon by those in charge of the 
rehef and in consequence of this and other objectionable 
features of management, there had been many cases of hard- 
ship and much unnecessary suffering." 

As to the justice of this it has been already indicated that 
criticism was inevitable because there existed no well- 
grounded body of public opinion to- which could be an- 
chored the wisdom of sound and thorough social methods. 
The passing of time has reenforced the rightness of the 
course taken, and not a few former critics would now* 
be ready to condemn the methods used as not having been 
radical enough. Still there was an element of justice in 
what was said, and social workers of the future when 
thrown into a similar situation should curtain their machine 
ery a little closer, at least until the community can realize the 
principles which organization must conserve. 

The principle on which rigid procedure is justified is 
based upon disaster psychology itself, and is the fruit of a 
long series of trials and errors. On the first few days after 
disaster the finer sensibilities of human nature appear. Men 
and women say " others have lost more, we will get on with 
a minimum of help." About the fifth day when the poign- 
ancy of the horrors has passed and the dead are buried, 


these saime people suddenly discover that there are 
thousands of dollars available. Then another aspect of 
human nature comes into evidence. Every device is utilized 
by each to out-distance fthe other in the scramble. Thena 
has not been a single disaster where this state of mind has 
not shown itself. The way to deal with it without com- 
plete records as yet has not been suggested. The only way 
a comimittee can protect itself against disgruntled criticism 
is to know what it is doing. This is the justification of 
rigid desk procedure. It is a way to detect and to defeat 
imposture; though it serves also many other purposes. 
It was not, however, all adverse criticism which developed 
at Halifax. There were many who were able to see the 
beneficent purpose behind the careful service, and as months 
passed on the value of this experienced administration came 
to be more generally realized. Indeed 

so large a place did the Social Service workers eventually fill 
in the community that many reestablished families begged for 
the continuance of the department's supervision even though 
its aid was no longer required. No greater testimony to the 
value of this rehabilitation work could be given.^ 

When on January twenty-first the Federal Relief Comn 
mission took charge of the entire system, it may be said that 
there was a change not only of hands, but of policy as well. 
The large amounts made available by the Imperial and 
Domiinion governments and by public subscription made it 
possible to substitute for rehabilitation the principle of 
modified restitution. This change of policy the govern- 
ment aidopted because of the conviction upon the part 
of the people that they were suffering from the vicis- 
situdes of war, and that full restoration was in law and 
equity of national obligation. The ste^ is of special social 

1 Johnstone, op. cit. 


significance for Halifax is the first instance where on any 
large scale ^ the principle of restitution became the guide, 
rather than that of rehabilitation. This principle of inh- 

implies the reinstatement of the beneficiary as nearly as possible 
into the position from which he was hurled by the calamity 
which has befallen him. It implies that to the householder shall 
be given the use of a house, to the mechanic his tools, to the 
family its household furniture. For the community as" a whole 
it means a speedy restoration of such economical and industrial 
activities as have been temporarily suspended, the rebuilding of 
bridges, the reopening of streets, the reestablishment of banks, 
business houses, churches, schools. It requires that protection 
shall be given the defenseless, food and shelter to the homeless, 
suitable guardianship to the orphan and as nearly as possible 
normal social and industrial conditions to all.^ 

It must be made clear that while in no case was the Halifax 
policy denominated restitution, but rather " generous relief," 
in actual practice a large proportion of claims were verified 
and paid on a percentage basis of the loss suffered, rather 
than that of ascertained need. The Commlission was granted 
power to " pay in full all personal property and real estate 
claims duly established to an amount not exceeding five 
thousand dollars. And while in case of the larger claims of 
churches, schools, business properties and manufacturing 
establishments, and the property of the more prosperous! 
classes, there was a policy of just and adequate relief 
declared, the agitation continued and continues that '* every 
dollar of loss shall be paid in full." 

Of such a policy in disaster relief Deacon writes: " It is 

* Both in Chicago and Johnstown many families were placed in a 
position practically as good as that which they had occupied before. 
Carnegie once completely reimbursed the sufferers from a bank failure. 

• iDevine, Edward T., Principles of Relief (N. Y., 1904), pt. iv,.p. 462. 


not the policy of disaster relief to employ its funds in re- 
storing losses and compensating for death or perslonal 
injury." Commenting on this statemeint John R. Moors 
says: " It is interesting to note that at Halifax, the latest 
scene of serious disaster, such full compensation is in- 

What were the social results of this policy? This ques- 
tion is one of no less interest to the community itself than 
ito the student of sociology. It is perhaps too early for 
adequate examination and comparison with the policy 
which formerly held sway. While still a vital question 
there are observers who have grown dubious, if not of res- 
titution certainly of the lump-sum method of restoration.^ 
They assert that for many it proved simply a lesson in ex- 
travagance and did not safeguard the economic future of 
the recipients. Unused to carrying all their worldly goods 
in their vest pockets, these same pockets became empty 
again with uncommon rapidity. Victrolas, silk shirts and 
furbelows mulftiplied. Merchants' trade grew brisk with 
" explosion money." There seemed t6 be a temporary ex- 
change of positions by the social classes. The following 
statement made by one closely associated with social con- 
ditions in Halifax and written over two years after the 
disaster, shows only too well the danger involved in the 
application of such a principle. After referring to " the 
spirit of passive criticism directed chiefly against the few 
who have borne the burden of restoration " the statement 
continues : 

The individuals who after all make up a community have 
been blinded to the bigger interests by their own individual ma- 

^ Moors, John F., Book Review, Survey, vol. xxxix, no. 17 (Jan. 26, 
1918), p. 472. 

2 The courts of small claims devoted ten minutes to each case. The 
amount awarded was paid on the day the case was heard. 


terial losses, and the idea of material compensation on a dollar 
for dollar basis. As some of us earlier foresaw, the disaster 
wrought much moral damage, for which no " claims " were 
even presented, even by those to whom we might look for 
special moral teaching in such an experience. In the course 
of our work we come daily upon evidences of this condition 
lingering in our midst. 

Upon the whole disaster-study inclines to the unwisdom 
•of " the disposition to proceed as though the relief committee 
were a compensation board or an insurance society, and to 
indemnify for loss." But as already said it is early to ap- 
praise. What in ordinary times might be condemned might 
conceivably under the abnormal conditions of war be less 
morally dangeroius. The system may have been at fault 
and not the principle.^ Partly for reasons connected with 
the war it was desired to conclude the business with dispatch, 
and not to set up a banking house or a training school in 
thrift. There remains also the final test, the residuum of 
nelief, the num^ber of those who will remain permanently 
upon the charity list of the community. Will it be said of 
Halifax as formerly of Johnstown, that " probably so large 
a sum never passed into a community of equal size with so 
little danger to the personal character of the citizens and so 
complete an absence of any pauperizing or demoralizing in- 

The lessons which come out of this experience at Halifax: 
may easily be sumimarized. 

1. The socialization of all communities should be pro- 
moted if for no other reason than for protection. 

2. More technical methods of coordination are desirable. 

3. To display the tnachinery of organization is unwise. 

* The policy to be pursued in disaster relief cannot yet be finally 
stated. It may ultimately be found necessary to distinguish between the 
loss of property socially owned, and that of private ownership. 


4. The supervision of voluntary services should be in the 
hands of one vocationally trained for the purpose. 

5. Further consideration is required as to the policy of 
restitution and its administration. 

6. The wisdom should be considered of establishing a 
secret relief distribution service, such as fraternal societies 
conduct fof those who though in need will not publicly; 
accept assistance. 

7. The necessity of using trained searchers for the dead, 
who will note the precise spot where bodies are recovered, 
the centralization of all morgue service, the use of metal 
tags instead of paper, the sterilization and preservation of 
clothing and effects for purposes of identification, and in 
addition the development of a morgue social service with 
training and qualifications of a special character. 

8. The complete organization of a social relief reserve 
with members beforehand definitely assigned to special 
•tasks, with requisite printed supplies in readiness would 
render the most effective social economy in emergency. 
This reserve should be trained in the general organization of 
shelter, food and clothing, in the shaping of a policy of 
general rehabilitation, in medical social service, in children's 
work and in the use of volunteers. 

To answer the requirements of what could be called in 
any sense a sociological treatment of the disaster, the 
foregoing chapter on the contribution of social service 
could with difficulty be omitted. Social service introduces 
a relatively new element of leadership and control upon 
which disaster sufferers of the future may rely and which 
assures to any community the presence of those who have 
special skill in dealing with crises. The " relation of the 
great man to the crisis is indeed one of the most important 
points in the problem of progress " ^ in catastrophe. The^ 

1 Thomas, op. cit., p. 19. 


subject also assumes special importatLce in the development 
of the thesis itself. No accounting for social changes 
which may hereafter be enumerated can be accurately under- 
taken without full consideration of the major influences 
which were present. Thus by elimination' we may be able 
to better gauge the strength of the factor oif catastrophe 
itself. The place oi government and other social factors, 
however, has yet to be discussed.^ 

^ The author regrets that it has been necessary to omit special mention 
of the many institutions, societies and voluntary agencies, which were 
actively engaged in the relief work, and to confine the chapter to the 
principles employed by those mainly responsible for relief and ad- 

Catastrophe and Social Legislation 

Governmental agencies in catastrophe — What seems to be expected of 
governmient^s — ^What they actually do — ^Social legislation — A per- 
manent contribution. 

We have thus far been tracing certain of the major in- 
fluence which are brought to bear upon a community when, 
after having been overtaken by catastrophe, it is settHng 
back into its formier habitistic channels, — channels which 
not even catastrophe can altogether efface. Some of these 
influences are intra-communol an/d self -generating, such, 
as the reconstructive impulses already examined. Others 
are ultra-communal, such as those vigorous social forces 
which sweep in upon a disaster city with the suddenness of 
catastrophe itself. 

There is a further influence which is of a community yet 
in a sense not of it alone, but of all communities — govern- 
ment — that institution of society which expresses its will by 
legislation, a will which may or may not be the will of the 
community concerned. And because legislative action is 
responsible action, and precedent-setting action, it is. apt to 
be deliberative action. Perhaps this is especially true of 
the new and less familiar field of social legislation. While 
it may be that the laJtest group tO' function effectively at 
Halifax was government, social legislation when forth- 
coming contributed an important and deciding influence, 
and was in turn itself enriched by the calamity. 

The boundaries of social legislation are still in the mak- 

lOO [lOO 


itig and daily enclosing a wider and wider field. But not 
all governments are sympathetic with this process. There 
are two standards of legislation — the one conserves above 
all things rhe rights and privileges of the individual, the 
other considers first the community as a whole. The 
superiority of the new ideals of legislation rests here, that 
it is the general interest which is primarily consulted and 
becomes the norm:, rather than the rights oi the individual 
citizen. Progress in legislation includes its extension into 
all the affairs of life, retaining as much as may be the liberty 
of the individual while progressively establishing the in- 
terests of all.^ Its evolution is traceable from the first poor 
laws, all down the long succeeding line of those dealing with 
education, health, labor and recreation. However much 
agreement or disagreement there may be and is as to the 
wisdom of this imiutable sphere of ameliorative legislation, 
changing just as one ideal or the other happens to be in the 
ascendancy, there is at least no doubt as to the duty of the 
government to protect and safeguard its citizens. 

The one duty of the state, that all citizens, except the 
philosophical anarchists, admit, is the obligation to safeguard, 
the commonwealth by repelling invasion and keeping the 
domestic peace. To discharge this duty it is necessary to 
maintain a police force and a militia, and a naval establishment. 
Such dissent from this proposition as we hear now and then 
is negligible for practical purposes.^ 

In this duty all governments alike share, be they imperial, 
federal, provincial or municipal, according to their respec- 
tive powers. 

At Halifax authoritative control following the disaster 
was not wholly municipal or wholly martial, but rather art 

1 Lindsay, Samuel M., Unpublished Lectures on Social Legislation. 

^Giddings, Franklin H., The Responsible State (N. Y., 1918), ch. iv, 
p. 81. 


admixture of authorities. Policeman and soldier joined 
bands as agents of general protection. This service govern- 
ment did and did at once. 

One of the activities of the disaster relief first takaa ^ was 
that by the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Nova 
Scotia, when he sent to the Chief of Police of Halifax the 
following order: 

You are hereby authorized to commandeer and make use of 
any vehicle of any kind that you find necessary for the purpose 
of removing the injured and the dead of this city. 

The service of the police of Halifax was highly com- 
mendable. They worked for long periods with little rest 
to maintain public peace and order. The splendid service 
of the King's soldiers and sailors has already been con- 
sidered. They were first and foremost in the work of 
rescue and of warning. Military orders to vacate the North 
End district as a precautionary measure followed hard upon' 
the explosion. Military orders permitted the people to 
return. Within a few hours after the disaster the military 
established a cordon around the devastated district which 
no one was allowed to pass without an order, which citizens 
having busineiss obtained at the City Hall. This was to 
prevent looting as well as tO' facilitate the search for the 
wounded pinned under the debris, and tO' permit the re- 
moval of the bodies of the killed. The burned and devastated 
area was policed by the tmiilitary for about two months with 
the concurrence of civic authority. 

But catastrophe calls for much more than- protection. It 
calls for a procedure, a guidance, a paternal care, and it 
c^lls for it at once. If we ask whether it be the function of 
government to take the foremost step of leadership in this 

1 iReference has already been made to the good work of the Govern- 
ment railroad officials m the quick restoration of service. 


care, the question is one for Political Science. If we ask 
the more sociological question whether governments actually 
and always do so, the answer is unhesitatingly — they do not. 
Says Cooley : " Like Other phases of organization, govern- 
ment is mierely one way of doing things, fitted by its character 
for doing some things, and unfitted for doing others." ^ 
This proved one of the things for which it was unfitted. 
Not one of the governmental authorities, civic, pro- 
vincial, or federal, at once assumed and held authoritatively 
and continuously the relief leadership. Indeed it is a 
peculiar commentary that they were scarcely thought of as 
likely immediately to do so. It should be said, however, 
that the Deputy-mayor — ^the Mayor being absent from the 
city — was very active personally. While one of the con- 
trollers was himself replacing the dead fire-chief, the De- 
puty-mayor called an emergency meeting of citizens On the 
morning of the disaster, and another at three in the after- 
noon to consider what to do. This meeting of citizens was 
presided over by the Lieutenant-Governor, and at it, as al- 
ready noticed, a beginning in relief organization was made. 
The committees, it will be remembered, were afterwards 
reformed upon a new basis on the advice of the American 
unit. But no civic resources were pledged to the people 
as was done at the Chicago fire. No moneys were then or 
subsequently appropriated. The Board of Health did not 
assert or assume the leadership in the unprecedented situa- 
tion. The City Hall was indeed set up as the relief center 
temporarily, but the advice to remove it elsewhere was not 
successfully opposed. How little civic authority was re- 
tained under the disaster circumstances is evidenced by theJ 
following complaint. The Board of Control which was 
then the legal representative body of the city had no member 

1 Cooley, 'Chfrles H., Social Organization (N. Y., 1912), ch. xxxv, 
p. 403. 


on the executive committee of the disaster admiinistration: 
One of these controllers publicly criticised the method of 
the Citizens' Committee as autocratic. He " almost had to 
have a page to reach the Commiittee as representative of the 
Board of Control." When the cabinet ministers from 
Ottawa were sitting in session in the legislative council 
room, and giving a hearing to a representative public gather- 
ing, the Mayor entened a complaint that the City Council 
and Corporation had been ignored by the acting committees. 
The Citizen's Committee exercised the general control. 
They were entrusted with the special grants and the civic 
authorities, Board of Health, police, etc., so ids as emer- 
gency matters went, cooperated with them. But the various 
civic officers were not idle. No one was idle at Halifax. 
They were occupied with the rehabilitation of the various 
departments at City Hall and with individual programs 
of relief. What the civic governmient continued tO' do 
officially was rather in the way of providing the stiff 
formality of proclamation to the carefully weighed sug- 
gestions of the Citizens' Committee. Several of these pro- 
clamations were issued. Among them was one urging all 
people excepting those on relief work or upon especially 
argent business to stay away from Halifax for two weeks. 
Another proclamation was a warning to merchants with re- 
gard to demanding exorbitant prices. Over the Mayor's 
signature went out the nationrwide appeal for aid that " al 
sorely afflicted people should be provided with clothing and 
food." The subsequent time, thought and help which City 
Hall contributed is of less sociological importance to this 
study. It is sufficient if we have faithfully described mun- 
cipal aid ini disaster as falling under the general category 
of service, rather than direction.^ 

1 This is not to be considered as without exception in catastrophies. 
A special Citizens' Committee led the operations at the Paterson fire 


Turning briefly to the provincial and federal spheres of 
activity in disaster we note that no special session of the 
provincial legislature was called, as was done by the Gover- 
nor of Illinois after the calamity which overtook Chicago in 
1 87 1. Yet when the leg:islature of Nova Scotia convened 
a fully considered and detailed act was passed incorporating 
the Halifax Relief Commission, and designating and defin- 
ing its powers/ The several articles defined its establish- 
ment as a rehabilitation and reconstruction committee, a 
town-planning board, as well as its powers of expropriation, 
its relationship to the city charter, certain parts of which 
it could amend or repeal; its powers to enforce attendance 
at its courts and boards ; its relationship to the Workmen'si 
Compensation Act and toi the insurance problem^. Besides, 
the Commission was also invested with full and adequate 
discretion regarding schools, churches and business pro- 

Some of the disaster legislative powers and procedures 
are of special interest to social legislation. Among these 
were the power to repair, rebuild or restore buildings, the 
power to repair and carry out a town-planning scheme, the 
power to amend, repeal, alter or add to provisions in the city 
charter, the automatic assumption of rights of owner to 
insure to the extent of the amount expended in repair, and 
the automatic cancellation of workmen's compensation 
claims. The act incorporating the commission with powers 
to make investigation, and administer all funds and pro- 
peirties constitutes Chapter VI of the year 191 8. Thd 
local legislature also passed Chapter XVIII authorizing the 

and flood, but at the Chicago fire the City government took immediate 
and responsible action. This was also the case at Baltimore when the 
Mayor was the "key to the situation." It should however be added 
that both at Halifax and Dartmouth the chairmen of the Citizens' 
Committees were ex-mayors. 

1 An Act to Incorporate the Halifax Relief Commission, Halifax, 1918. 


provincial loan of one hundred thousand dodlars for the 
benefit of the sufferers ; and Chapter XIX authorizing cities, 
towns and (municipalities to contribute for the relief of 

The action of Premier Borden oif Canada for prompti- 
tude and wisdom is comparable to that of President Harrison 
of the United States at the time of the Johnstown flood. 
The Canadian Premier at the time of the disaster was in 
Prince Edward Island, an island province lying near Nova 
Scotia. He at once left for Halifax and arrived the fol- 
lowing day. He immediately placed resources from the 
Federal government at the disposal of the local authorities 
to assist them in coping with the situation. The third day 
after the disaster he attended an important meeting regard- 
ing the harbor, and strengthened greatly the morale of the 
city by assuring a complete and rapid restoration of the 
harbor. Following the Premier came the Minister of Public 
Works and he too gave much admiinistrative assistance. 
Then came five members of the Federal Cabinet, each an- 
nouncing such programis of restoration as to give the com- 
munity new heart and inspiration. Amiong these announce- 
ments was that of the establishment of a large ship-building 
plant upon the explosion area. The Canadian government 
had already as its. lirst act made a grant of one million 
dollars, toward the sufferers' relief. It was then forcibly 
urged upon the government that it assume a responsibility 
towards Halifax such as the British government accepts in 
" its policy of holding itself responsible for loss and damage 
by air-raids and explosions." Public opinion seemed to 
demand that the work of restoration and reparation be un- 
dertaken by the government of Canada as a national en- 
terprise. The government while disclaiming all legal liability, 
acceded to the request. On January twenty-first there was 
announced the formation of a Federal Halifax Relief Com- 


mission to take over the whole work of rehabilitation and 
reconstruction, — an a"nnouncement which brought a feel- 
ing of relief to the already discouraged workers. 

Another interesting contrast may be noted in the fact that 
while the Governor of Ohio appointed the Ohio Flood Com- 
mission to receive and administer relief funds and supplies, 
the Halifax Relief Commission was appointed by the 
Governor-General of Canada in Council. This was done 
under the " Enquiries Act of Canada, beiing Chapter CIV 
of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1906, and under the 
War Measures Act, 19 14, being Chapter II of the Acts of 
Canada for the year 19 14." The Federal grant was later 
increased to five million dollars, and subsequently to 
eighteen millions. 

There sho^uld also be here recorded the timiely succour 
afforded by the Imperial Government at Westminster. Fol- 
lowing the King's gracious cable of sympathy, the sum of 
five million dollars was voted by the British Government to 
the relief of Halifax. The King's words were: 

Most deeply regret to hear of serious explosion at Halifax 
resulting in great loss of life and property. Please convey to 
the people of Halifax, where I have spent so many happy 
times, my true sympathy in this grievous calamity. 

Reference has already been made to the policy to which 
the Commiis'sion was committed. This policy may be 
more exactly stated by an extract from the act incorporat- 
ing the commdssiion : 

Whereas, the said Halifax Relief Commission as hereto- 
fore constituted has recommended to the Governor-General 
of Canada in Council, that reasonable compensation or allow- 
ance should be made to persons injured in or by reason of 
the said disaster and the dependents of persons killed or in- 
jured in or by reason of the said disaster and the Governor- 


General of Canada in Council has been pleased to adopt said 
recommendation; etc. 

In the proivision of material assistance, the strengthening 
of morale and the eventual establishment of a Relief Com'- 
miission, government may be said to have contributed an 
important and deciding influence in the reorganiization of 
the community of Halifax and its restoratioo to normal 

Not only must social legislation be acknowledged to 
have had a very direct determining influence upon what- 
ever picture of the community is subsequently drawn, 
but social legislation itself was enriched by the catastrophe. 
The association of catastrophe with progress in social legis- 
lation has already been noticed in our introduction, the mass 
of facts in support of which no writer has; yet co^mipiled. In 
this introduction we noted how on^ many occasions disasters 
have been the preceding reagents in effecfing legislation of 
permanent social value. It is instanced that city-planning 
in America took its rise from the Chicago fire, that the 
origin of labor legislation is traceable to a calamitous fever 
at Manchester and that the Titanic disaster precipitated 
amendment to the Seamlen's laws.^ It has been said that 
" the vast machinery of the Public Health Department in 
England has rapidly grown up in consequence of the choleral 
visitations in the ttriiddle of the last century ; " ^ and als:a 
that public health Work in America practically began with 
yellow fever epidemics. Writing of mining disasters, J. 
Byron Deacon says in this connection 

If it can be said that any circumstance attending such dis- 
asters is fortunate, it was that they exercised a profound 

1 Parkinson, Thomas I., " Problems growing out of the Titanic 
Disaster," Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, vol. vi, no. i. 

2 Ross, Edward A., Foundations of Sociology (N, Y., 1905), ch. viii, 
p. 254. 


influence upon public opinion, to demand new effort and legis- 
lation both for the prevention of industrial accidents and for 
the more equitable distribution of the burden of individual 
loss and community relief which they involved.^ 

Again E. A. Ross writes : 

A permanent extension to the administration of the state 
has often dated from a calamity, — a pestilence, a famine, a 
murrain, a flood or a tempest — which, paralyzing private 
efforts has caused application for state aid.^ 

The student of social legislation who reads this book will 
turn first to this chapter, and ask what permanent legisla- 
tion will the future associate with so dire a calamity as that 
suffered at Halifax. It may be said that not only has 
special disaster legislation of precedent-setting value been 
enacted serving in a measure to standardize relief legislative 
procedure, but social legislation of wider application and 
more general character ensued. And this was along the 
line which the student of social law should be led to expect. 

As calaimitous epidemics brling forth regulations of sanita- 
tion ; as marine disasters foster regulations ensuring greater 
safety at sea, it miight well be expected that a great ex- 
plosion would bring about regulations controlling the hand- 
ling of explosiives. And this is in reality what has oc- 
curred. There were approved on the twenty-fifth day of 
June, 1 91 9, by the Parliament of Canada, regulations re- 
specting the loading and handling of explosives in harbors, 
applicable to all public harbors in Canada, to which the pro- 
visions of Part XII of the Canada Shipping Act apply ; and 
to all other public harbors insofar as the same are not dti- 
cortsistent with regtdations alneady or hereafter made ap- 
plicable.^ They cover 

* Deacon, J. Byron, Disasters (N. Y., 1918), p. 43. 
2 Ross, op, cit., p. 253. 

• Regulations for the Loading and Handling of Explosives in the 
Harbors of Canada (Ottawa, June, 1919). 


1. The provision of special areas for berth, for explo- 

2. Regulations of ship control to be observed in the 
navigation in harbors of explosives-laden vessels. 

3. Regulations to be observed upon vessels carrying ex- 

4. Regulations governing the handling of explosives. 

" The enactment of these regulatioris " writes the Under- 
Secretary of State for Canada ^ " was suggested in large 
measure by the Halifax disaster." Had these regulations 
been in effect and observed in Halifax Harbor it is hardly 
conceivable that the great disaster of 191 7 could have oc- 

It should be borne in mind that the recommendation for 
this general legislation of social utility originated with the 
Drysdale commission — ^a board of enquiry appointed by the 
Federal Government to determine the cause of the disaster 
and whose judgment, was issued on February fourth, 191 8. 
In Section XHI of this judgment, the following occurs : 

that the regulations governing the traffic in Halifax harbor 
in force since the war were prepared by competent naval 
authorities ; that such traffi: regulations do not specifically deal 
with the handling of ships laden with explosives, and we i;ecom- 
mend that such competent authority forthwith take up and 
make specific regulations dealing with such subject. 

We, therefore, conclude that the function of government 
in disaster is of primary importance, and that social legisla- 
tion when forthcoming constitutes an important and decid- 
ing influence and is itself in turn enriched by calamity. 
Brought to the test of comparison with observed facts the 
statement in the Introduction, that catastrophe is in close 
association with progress in social legislation receives abun^ 
dant justification. 

1 In a letter to the author. 

Catastrophe and Social Surplus 

Mill's explanation of the rapidity with which communities recover 
from disaster — The case of San Francisco — The case of Halifax — 
Social surplus — The equipmental factors — Correlation of tragedy in 
catastrophe with generosity of public responscr^Catastrophe insur- 
ance — ^A practical step. 

John Stuart Mill offers a very interesting explanation 

of what has so often created wonder, the great rapidity with 
which countries recover from a state of devastation, the dis- 
appearance in a short time of all traces of the mischiefs done 
by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and the ravages of war.^ 

This " vis medicatrix naturae '' he explains on an economic 
principle. All the wealth destroyed was merely the rapid con- 
sumption of what had been produced previously, and which 
would have in due course been consumed anyway. The rapid 
repairs of disasters mainly depends, he says, on whether the 
community has been depopulated. 

But this is not an all-sufficient explanation, and indeed ap- 
lies particularly to counltries which have not been bereft of 
the raw materials of industrial machinery. San Franciscd 
recovered exceedingly rapidly from her terrible experience 
of 1906. Indeed her quick recovery has been called one! 
of the wonders of the age, San Francisco was not depop- 
ulated. Her actual losses of life were but four himdred and 
ninety-eight, and those injured four hundred and fifteen. 

1 Mill, John Stuart, Principles of Political Economy (London, 1917), 
ch. V, p. 74. 

Ill] III 


The loss of life on the other hand was about two thousand 
lin Halifax, a city of fifty thousand population^ — but one- 
eighth that of San FranciscO' — and her list of injured ran 
into m'any thousands. And yet the same phenomenon ap- 

There are other factors both social and economic which 
must not be omitted from an account of the influences of 
recuperation, namely the equipmental and other factors which 
produce social surplus. Disaster-stricken communities can- 
not survive unless their" surplusenergy exceeds their needs." 
They cannot become normal until the social surplus is re- 
stored. The social surplus, according to^ Professor Tenney, 
is " merely the sum-total of surplus energy existing in the in- 
dividuals composing a social group, or immediately available 
to such individuals."^ It includes not only "bodily vigor" 
but " such material goods also' as are immediately available 
for the restoration of depleted bodily vigor." It is not only 
physiological, as life energy, and social, as conditions of 
knowledge and institutional facilities, but also socio-econ- 
omic, as equipment for the maintenance or resltoration of 
physiological and social needs. In catastrophe bodily vigor 
may have been depleted, and material goods been consumed. 
No period of recuperation or rapid gain can ensue unless such 
equipment is in some degree replaced and a balance of social 
surplus restored. This is the conditio' sine qua non of re- 
cuperation, and of the transition from' a pain-economy to a 
pleasure-economy,^ after disaster. Certainly the maintenance 
of the standard of living demands it. The standard of 
living has been defined as the " mode of activity and scale 
of comfort which a person has come to regard as indis- 
pensable to his happiness and to secure and retain which he 

1 Tenney, Alvan A., " Individual and Social Surplus," Popular Science 
Monthly, vol. Ixxxii (Dec, 1912), p. 552. 

2 Patten, iSimon N., Theory of the Social Forces (Phil., 1896), p. 75. 


is willing to make any reasonable sacrifice." Following 
Professor Seager's association of the standard of living with 
population, Ithe reduction of population in catastrophe of a 
certain character might conceivably operate to automatically 
heighten the standard of living, just as the growth of popula- 
tion often brings about its fall. But caltastrophe often con- 
sumtes great quantities of material goods and brings about 
a change in incomes and in occupations.^ Seager notes that : 

Actual starvation confronts more rarely those belonging to 
the class of manual workers, but for them also under-nutri- 
tion is a possibility which prolonged illness or inability to 
obtain employment may at any time change into a reality. The 
narrow margin which their usual earnings provide above the 
bare necessaries of life, coupled with their lack of accumulated 
savings, makes them especially liable, when some temporary 
calamity reduces their incomes, to sink permanently below the 
line of self-support and self-respect^ 

It must be remembered that at Halifax while the equip- 
miental damage was stupendous, still the heart of the down- 
town business section remained sound. The banking dis- 
trict held together, and the dislocation of business machinery 
was less proitracted on that account. To this it is necessary 
to add how to a very considerable extent the material 
losses were replaced by comimsunities and countries which 
not only supplied the city with the material of recuperation 
but with men and means as well. Were her own workmen 
killed and injured? Glaziers, drivers, repair men and 
carpenters came by train-loads bringing their tools, their 

^ At San Francisco " after the fire, the proportion of families in the 
lower income groups was somewhat larger, and the proportion in the 
higher income groups somewhat smaller than before the fire." 
(iMotley, James M., San Francisco Relief Survey, New York, 1913, 
pt. iv, p. 228.) 
'Seager, Henry R., Economics, Briefer Course (N. Y., 1909), ch. xiii, 

p. 210. 


food and their wages with them. The city's population was 
increased by thirty-five hundred workmen, twenity-threet 
hundred of whom were registered with the committee at 
one time. Was her glass destroyed? Eighty acres of 
transparences came for the temporary repairs and had been 
placed by January the twenty-first. Were her buildings 
gone? Seven million, five hundred thousand feet of lumber 
were soon available to house the homeless. Were her 
people destitute? Food and clothing were soon stacked 
high. Were her citizens bankrupt because of losses ? Fifty 
thousand dollars came from Newfoundland, another fifty 
thousand from New Zealand, one hundred thousand from 
Quebec, one hundred thousand from Montreal, two hundred 
and fifty thousand from Australia, five million from Great 
Britain. In merchandise, clothing and cash a million came 
from Massachusetts. In about fifteen weeks., aside from 
the Federal grant, eight millions were contributed. The 
total contributions from all sources amounted finally to 
twenty-seven million dollars. 

Factors such as these must not be omitted in examining 
the sociological recuperation of a smitten city. And when 
the experience of Halifax is set side by side with the related 
experiences of other cities a conclusion may be drawn that 
disaster-stricken communities can always count upon public 
aid, for the reasons which have already been discussed. 
But there is found to be strongly suggested a correlation be- 
tween the striking character or magnitude of a disaster and 
the generosity of the relief response,^ as there is also with 
the immediacy of the appeal. " It is not the facts themselves 
which strike the popular imagination " says Le Bon, " but 

1 At the time of the tragic Martinique disaster the New York committee 
received $80,000 more than it could disburse. (Devine, Edward T., 
The Principles of Relief, N. Y., 1904, pt. iv, ch. vii, p. 468.) 


the way in which they take place." ^ There have been dis- 
asters relatively serious, such as the St. Quentin forest fire, 
where repeated appeals met with astonishingly little response! 
from the people. " A single great accident *' continues Le 
Bon, " will profoundly impress them even though the results 
be infinitely less disastrous than those of a hundred small 
accidents put together." It was in recognition of this prin- 
ciple that " it was decided to transfer the residue of the 
amount contributed [after the Triangle fire] to the contingent 
fund of the American Red Cross, to be used in disasters, 
which in their nature do not evoke so quick or generous 
public response, but where the suffering is as grievous." ^ 

Besides the relation of the tragic in catastrophe to gener- 
osity and other expressions of sympathy, the experience at 
Halifax suggests also a relationship between the aid fur- 
nished by a contributing community and that community's 
own previous history in regard to calamity. As an in- 
stance may be cited the quick and splendid response which 
came from St. John and Campbellton, two New Brunswick 
cities with unforgeltable memories of great disasters which 
they themselves had suffered. It is also not improbable that 
the study of comparative catastrophe would reveal a cor- 
relation between the relative amount of aid given and the 
distance of those who give. Indeed there are reasons which 
suggest that the relationship might be written thus: that 
relief in disaster varies inversely as the square of the cost 
distance. The association here suggested is given addi- 
tional plausibility from the fact that attention to certain 
types of news seems to vary according to this principle, 
and news notice is no inconsiderable factor in disaster aid. 

Enough has been said to make it clear that at the present 

*Le Bon, Gustave, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (Lon- 
don), ch. iii, p. 79. 
'Deacon, J. Byron, Disasters (N. Y., 1918), ch. v, p. 120. 


time, in the absence of any scientific method of socially 
ameliorating the consequences of catastrophe, relief is a 
fluctuating quantity, and is poorly apportioned from the 
point of view of need. While such conditions obtain, dis- 
asters must inevitably contribute to the inequalities which 
break the hearts of men. It is alas true, that after all our 
generosities and philanthropies 

many people lose their normal position in the social and 
economic scale through earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, 
railway wrecks, fires, and the common accidents of industrial 
life. These accidents naturall}' have a vast influence over the 
lives of their victims; for they often render people unfit to 
struggle along in the rank and file of humanity.^ 

The only socially defensible way of doing is to spread 
the economic results of these disasters over the entire com- 
munity in some form of intra-city catastrophe insurance ad- 
ministered by the Federal government. This alone will 
overcome the irrationality of an inequitable levy upon the 
more sympathetic, and the fluctuations of disproportionate 
relief. And even beyond this step is there not the possibility 
of an international system in which each nation will insure 
the other? Certainly at Halifax the aid contributed came 
from many nations and tongues. But while we are discus- 
sing what ought to be and eventually will be done, one very 
practical step remains which may be taken at once. At the 
Halifax disaster, we have seen that mwch of the direction 
and technical leadership, welcome at it was, and saving the 
situation as it did, yet came from without rather than from 
within the country. There is no Canadian who will close 
these pages without askmg whether this must always be. 
May it not be respectfully suggested, as a concluding result 

1 Blackmar and Gillin, Outlines of Sociology (N. Y., 1915), pt. iv, 
ch. V, p. 402. 


of this situdy, that the Canadian government, take im- 
mediate steps to develop a staff of experts, a reserve fund, 
and stations of relief strategically located ill' Canada — these 
stations to have in their keeping left-over war-material, 
such as tents, stores, and other equipment together with re- 
cords of available experts who have had experience in dis- 
asters and who may be subject to call when emergencies 

And now to return to our thesis, and its special enquiry, 
namely, wherein is the specific functioning of catastrophe 
an social change? We have thus far concerned ourselves 
with the major factors of recuperation, intra-social forces, 
social service, and legislaition. 

We find it necessary now to add that the socio-economic 
constitutes a no less important factor. But the effects may 
not stop with mere recuperation. Suppose a city be- 
comes in a trice more prosperous and progressive than ever. 
Suppose she begins to grow pqpulous with uncommon 
rapidity; her bank clearings do* not fail but rather increase; 
her industries rebuild and grow in numbers ; new companies 
come looking for sites as if dimly conscious that expansion 
is at hand! Suppose a city rises Phoenix-like from the 
flames, a new and better city, her people more kind, more 
charitable, moire compassionate to little children, more con^ 
siderate of age ! Suppose there come social changes which 
alter the conservatism and civic habits of many years — 
changes which foster a spirit of public service, and stimulate 
civic pride! Then there is clearly some further influence 
associated with the day of disaster. Perhaps we shall find 
progress innate in catastrophe itself. 

Catastrophe and Social Change 

The unchanging Halifax of the years — The causes of social immobiHty — 
The new birthday — The indications of change : appearance, expansion 
of business, population, political action, city-planning, housing, health, 
education, recreation, community spirit — ^Carsten's prophecy. 

Halifax has had her fair proportion of tribute in her 
time. Kipling has called her " the Warden of the Honor 
of the North." Pauline Johnston sings of her pride of 
situation. As Edinburgh, "it is a city of many charms; 
beautiful for situation, beyond most of the cities of the 
world ; vocal with history beyond most, for at every turn of 
its streets som'e voice from the past 'comes sounding 
through the toon.' " Her public gardens are the envy of 
all. Her vistas of the sea are without compare. Her North- 
west Armi is a veritable joy. Birds sing in her homes. 
Cheery wood-fires burn brightly in her open grates. No 
city of her size is more hospitable than she. 

But she has always been a city which has never quite 
entered into her heritage commercially. Situated where 
by nature she might well be great, she has always been 
small. Unaimbitious, wealthy ^ and little jealous of the; 
more rapidly-growing cities, she has prided herself oni 
being a lover of better things. Commerce and industry 
were things alien ^ and secular. She devoted herself to 

1 Halifax is the wealthiest city per capita in the Dominion of Canada. 

2 For years real estate was marketed " quietly." In fact, real property 
was in the hands of one or two specialists only. 

ii8 [ii8 

IIq] catastrophe and social change iig 

standards of art, music, learning, religion and the philan- 
thropies. Charitable and philanthropic institutions abounded. 
She has had her own conservative English ways. She 
affected homage to " old families," and to that illusory 
element " social prestige." She welcomed each new knight 
which the favor of the king conferred, and grew careless 
of civic prosperity and growth. She had leaned " too long 
upon the army and the navy " and her citizens had become 
" anaemic," " lethargic " and standstill ; their " indifference " 
and " inertia " were a commonplace. Halifax had been 
complacent and academic rather than practical in her out- 
look upon the world and her general attitude toward life. 

Geographically she suffered by her situation on the 
rim of the continent. She experienced not a little ne- 
glect and isolation because she was an undeveloped 
terminal, and not a junction point. Travellers and com- 
mercial men could not visit her en route but only by special 

Again " the government has had altogether too many in- 
terests in Halifax for the good of the place." " Govern- 
ment-kept towns " are not as a rule " those which have 
achieved the greatest prosperity." Halifax as a civil-service 
headquarters and a government military depot was perhaps 
open to the charge of being at least " self-satisfied." 
Valuable acres of non-taxable land have been far from stimu- 
lating to civic enterprise. 

An historic city too, Halifax fell under the blight of 
overmuch looking backward, and sociologically the back look 
has been always recognized as the foe of progress. But 
she has had a past to be proud of — one which throbs with 
incident and interest. Born as a military settlement, she 
has been a garrison city and naval station for more than ai 
hundred and fifty years. She has been called " the stormy 
petrel among the cities — always to the front in troublous 


timjes." She has^ served and suffered in four hard wars. 
She has gloried in this wealth of years and storied past. 
Her traditions have been traditions of royalty, blue blood, 
dashing officers, church parades, parlialmentary ceremonies, 
fetes, levees and all the splendor and spirit of old colonial 
times. A newspaper has published daily items of a generation 
before, and weekly featured a reverie in the past.^ Old in 
her years she remained old in her appearance, old in 
her ways, and in her loves. She boasted old firms which 
have kept their jubilees, old churches wherein was cradled 
the religious life of Canada, an old university with a century 
of service. 'Each nooni a cannon boomed the mid-day 
hour, and like a curfew sounded in the night. 

Search where one will, it would be difficult to find 
another city which has more completely exhibited the causes 
of social immo'bility as set forth by sociology. For there 
are, it must be remembered, causes of immobility as well 
as factors of social change. They may be geographical 
difficulties, or elements more distinctively social — an over- 
emphasis of government, discouraging innovation, too' great 
fi " volume of suggestion," the drag of *' collective customs 
and beliefs," a " traditionalist educational system," the '' in- 
heritance of places and functions " tending toi arrest develop- 
mfent, "government, law, religion and ceremony, hallowed 
by age." ^ All these reenforce the conservative tendencies 
in society and preserve the status quo.^ 

1 The Acadian Recorder, C. C. Blackadar, editor. 

' Ross, Edward A., Foundations of Sociology (N. Y., 1905), ch, viii, 
p. 197. 

^ There are other causes of conservatism. A comparative freedom 
from disasters in the past is one. Halifax has suffered few in her 
entire history. Indeed the cholera epidemic is the only one of any 
consequence. She remained one of the last large wooden cities. Her 
sister city, St. John, was stricken by a disastrous fire and stands to-day 
safer, more substantial, more progressive in every way. 

Again communities are generally conservative in character when a 


Diagnosis in detail is not essential here. Up to the time of 
the disaster Halifax had certainly preserved the status quo. 
We need not labor the how and why. Tourists had re- 
turned year after year and found her unaltered. " Dear, 
dirty old Halifax " they had called her. They had found 
business as usual, — old unpainted wooden houses on every 
side, unswept chimneys, an antiquated garbage system and 
offensive gutters; the best water and the poorest water 
system an inspector ever examined ; the purest air but the 
most dust-laden in a stormi; an obsolete tramway,^ a 
" green market," ox-carts on the main streets, crossings ankle- 
deep with mud, a citizenship given, over tO' late rising. In- 
stead of making the city they had been " letting it happen." 
The "transient, the good-enough, the cheapest possible" 
had been the rule of action. 

Such has been the unchanging Halifax of the years. But 
the old order changeth. The spell of the past is broken. 
A change has come over the spirit of her dreams. There are 

large percentage are property-holding people. It was one of the sur- 
prises of the Halifax catastrophe that so large a number of citizens 
were found to own at least in part the homes they lived in. 

There are other questions which the sociologist would ask if it were 
possible to carry the investigation further. Is the community loath to 
disturb the existing relations or to resort to extreme means to achieve 
desired ends? Or is it eager to sweep away the old, to indulge in 
radical experiment and to try any means that give promise of success? 
He would study too the distribution of people relative to their interests. 
Is there a majority of those whose experiences are narrow and whose 
interests are few? Or is there a majority of those who have long en- 
joyed varied experiences and cultivated manifold interests, that yet re- 
main harmonious? He studies the character of the choices, decisions, 
selections in a people's industry, law-making, educational and religious 
undertakings. It is thus that he proceeds in diagnosing a population 
as to the degree of conservatism and to discover what the ideal com- 
munity should be. — ^Giddings, Franklin H., Inductive Sociology (N. Y., 
1909), p. 178, et seq. 

1 Halifax has now one of the best equipped tramway systems to be 
found anywhere. There has recently been appropriated the sum of 
$200,000 for ;sewers, $150,000 for water, $300,000 for street paving. 


signs that a new birthday has come. The twenty-first day 
of June was the old Natal Day, kept each year with punc- 
tilious regularity. But Halifax is now just beginning to 
realize that there was a new nativity, and that it dates f rami 
December — ^that fatal Sixth. " Sad as was the day, it 
may be the greatest day in the city's history." 

Almost instinctively since the disaster Halifax has come to 
see the sources of her weakness and of her strength. Her 
geographical position which once meant isolation ^ will hence- 
forth be her best asset. Just as the geographical expansion 
of Europe made the outposts of the Old World the entre- 
pots of the New, so the expansion of Canada and of Nova 
Scotia — 'the province with the greatest number of natural 
resources of any in the Dominion — ^to the newly awakening 
city appears full of substantial promise. It will be largely 
hers to handle the water-borne commerce of a great country. 
Henceforth the ocean will become a link and "not a limit. 
World-over connectioms are the certainties of the future, 
bound up inevitably with the economic and social solidarity 
of nations. Closer to South Am^erica than the United 
States, closer tO' South Africa than England, closer to Liver- 
pool than New York, Halifax sees and accepts her destiny, 
forgets the inconvenience and loss she has undergone and 
the many annoyances of blasting and of digging, that the 
facilities of her "triple haven" might be multiplied and the 
march of progress begin. " The new terminals with their im- 
pressive passenger station, will not only be an attractive front 
door for Halifax, but will fit her to be one of the great 
portals of the Dominion." 

There has come upon the city a strange impatience of 
unbuilt spaces and untaxed areas sacred for decades to 
military barracks and parades. She has urged for some 

1 Halifax long felt herself to have been commercially a martyr to 


immediate solution, with the result that military property 
will be concentrated and many acres released to the city for 
its own disposal. 

Whether the pendulum' will swing so far as to imperil the 
retention of old historic buildings, time-stained walls, and 
century-old church-yards is not yet apparent; although sug- 
gestions have been made which would have astounded the 
Halifax of a generation ago. Certain it is that a period of 
orientation is at hand. There is a stirring in the wards and 
clubs for progressive administration and modern policies. 
" Here as elsewhere the time has now come for clear thinking 
and the rearrangement of traditional thought." 

Indications of change are already abundant. The first 
to note is that of appearance. For illustration may be 
quoted an editorial published near the second anniversary of 
the explosion: 

Halifax has been improving in appearance since the ex- 
plosion, exhibiting very sudden changes at particular points. 
One almost forgets what the city was like about ten years ago. 
Still there is a great deal to be done in the way of improvement 
to our streets. The move in the direction of permanent streets 
is an excellent one and if carried out as designed will be an 
improvement and saving to the city. 

The report of the Secretary of the Board of Trade makes 
the following reference to the change in appearance of the 

One of the pleasing features in reference to both the whole- 
sale and retail business of Halifax is the improved condition 
of premises over a few years ago ; retail stores are now having 
up-to-date and attractive fronts, while wholesalers are im- 
proving their show-rooms and thereby increasing their sales. 

The Mayor writes regarding the sidewalk improvement : 

Some twenty miles of concrete sidewalks to be constructed 


are on the order paper to be taken in turn so as to be as uni- 
form as possible. This will go a long way toward improving 
the appearance of the city. 

As to the change in the style of houses the Mayor states: 

A pleasing feature of the new construction is the de- 
parture from the former square box style of dwelling, also 
the method of placing rows of houses exactly in the same 
style. Today homelike houses of modern design, set back 
from the street with lawns in front are the order of the day — 
bungalows are particularly in favor. 

Fine new residences are being built, apartment ideas are 
spreading, new lights are being tried out, a new tram com- 
pany has take^ hold. Indeed one citizen is credited with the 
words : "It is almost a sacrilege that Halifax should be so 

The consciousness of change is seen in an altered public 
opinion and the beginnings of a new civic outlook. Evidence 
of the new note is a statement by ome of the progressive Hali- 
fax firms : 

Halifax is going to make good. Outside firms are taking 
up valuable sites in our business districts. The banks are 
increasing their activities. Some of the biggest industries are 
coming our way. Surely everything points toward prosperity. 

Another feature indicative O'f the changing consciousness, 
which has infected a much wider region than Halifax it- 
self is the plan no'w making rapid progress for an Old 
Home Summer, to be held from June to October, 1924. The 
project has already received legislative recognition. An 
effort will be made to recall former residents on a scale such 
as has never been attempted before. The commiittee an 
charge is made up of many prominent citizens and the 
" 1924 Club " grows. One may observe still another indica- 


tion of the detennination to progress in the recent com- 
pletion of a systemi linking-up HaHfax by telephone with 
Montreal, Toronto, New York and Chicago. 

Indices of business conditions are far from satisfactory, 
yet the items used in their computations are the only ones 
upon which variations may be even roughly gauged. Roger 
Babson puts as the leading considerations: (i) Building 
and real estate; (2) bank clearings; (3) business failures. 
Other symptomatic facts are postal revenues, tramway re- 
ceipts, exports, taxes, interest rates, insurance, wages and 
hours, commodity prices, unfilled orders, immigration and 
unemplO}^m:erLt. ^ 

With regard to the first the following statement issued 
by the Mayor is significant. He says: 

The year 191 9 has been one of exceptional prosperity in 
the City of Halifax. It has been a record year for building. 
Permits to the approximate value of $5,000,000 have been is- 
sued to the engineer's office, the largest amount by far in its 
history, the amount being practically ten times that of 191 3, or 
the year before the Great War commenced. A part of this only 
can be attributed to the terrible explosion of 19 17. 

He refers to the great amounc of construction going on in 
the western and northwestern parts of the city which were 
relatively untouched by the disaster. The Mayor further 
states : 

It must be remembered that it is only two years since the 
devastation caused by the explosion and strangers in the city 
have considered it wonderful that we are so far advanced in 
building up that portion which only a year ago had not a 
house upon it. 

The following tabulation gives the building figures ac- 
cording to the permits issued at the City Hall. It shows a 
remarkable recent increase. 

1 Chaddock, Robert E., Unpublished Material. 


Building Permits 

1910 $471,140 

1911 508,836 

1912 589775 

1913 839,635 

1914 874,320 

1915 1,066,938 

1916 1,177,509 

1917 844,079 

1918 2,955,406 

1919 5,194,806 

With regard to real estate the Mayor writes in December 

The increase in the seUing values of properties is remark- 
able. Business property has taken a jump in value, and it 
is difficult to get for business purposes property well situated 
unless at very high prices. Property has been known to change 
hands within a year at approximately double the amount 
originally paid. 

The Secretary of the Board of Trade reports : 

Real estate has been active, and prices have been obtained 
greatly in excess of what properties were valued at in pre- 
war days. 

In the matter of bank clearings ^ the following table in- 
dicates a very considerable change : 

Bank Clearings 

1910 $95,855,319 

1911 87,994,043 

1912 100,466,672 

1913 105,347,626 

1914 100,280,107 

1915 104,414,598 

1916 125,997,881 

1917 '. 151,182,752 

1918 216,084,415 

1919 241,200,194 

^ The reader will of course remember the general inflation of currency. 


As to business failures the Secretary says : 

Business failures have been few — practically the whole 
amount of the liabilities will be made up of one failure, 
and it is believed the loss to creditors in this particular case 
will be slight. 

Additional Indices 

Gross Postal Revenue Tramway Receipts (gross) 

1910 $114,318 $477,109 

1911 119,561 502,399 

1912 • 132,097 539,853 

1913 140,102 605,933 

1914 147,943 645,341 

1915 154,499 718,840 

1916 167,594 559,513 

1917 255,815 '859,667 

1918 305,412 998,702 

1919 349,507 1^258,503 

Among other assurances of the new prosperity and the 
beginnings of fresh faith in the city's future is the coming 
of new large business interests into the city. Among the 
largest construction work is the building of the Halifax 
shipyards upon the explosion ground, involving an outlay 
of ten millions of dollars. There is the ever-extending 
plant of the Imperial Oil Company, which will eventually 
make of Halifax a great oil-distribution port. There is the 
continuation of the thirty-million-dollar scheme of modem 
termiinal facilities, which have been constructed so close to 
the ocean that a ship may be out of sight of land within an 
hour after casting off from the quay. 

In short there has been, as has been said, an " imtpetusi 
given to business generally." That the impetus will con- 
tinue there is every prospect. Halifax may experience 
a temporary wave of depression when such waves are flow- 
ing elsewhere. But today there are fewer doubters and more 
believers. The day of new elevators, new hotels, harbor- 


bridges and electric trains is not very far away. The 
prophecy of Samuel Cunard made in 1840 — when he in- 
augurated the first Trans-Atlantic line — that " Halifax 
would be the entering port of Canada " — seems destined to 

As regards population after disasters Hoffman writes: 

Even an earthquake such as affected the city of San 
Francisco may not materially change the existing numbers 
of the population after a sufficient period of time has elapsed 
for a reassembling of the former units, and a return to the 
normal conditions of life and growth.^ 

Yet as before remarked, the catastrophe at Halifax 
eclipsed all preceding disasters to single communities on the! 
Continent of America in the toll of human life.^ In the 
San Francisco earthquake the loss was four hundred and 
ninety-eight ; at the Chicago fire three hundred ; at the Iroquois 
theatre fire in the same city, five hundred and seventy-five ; 
at the Chester explosion one hundred and twelve; at the 
Johnstown flood two thousand. It is now estiimiated that 
the disaster at HaHfax probably passed this latter figure, 
decreasing the city's population by four per cent. Not- 
withstanding this heavy draught upon the population, the 
1918 volume of the Halifax Directory contained six 
hundred and fifty more names than the previous year. 

In the light of this consideration the following indication 
of the growth of population is also of contributory interest.* 

1 Hoffman, Frederick iL., Insurance, Science and Economics (N. Y., 
1911), ch. ix, p. 2>^7. 

2 In the Texas flood of 1900 there were lost 5,000 lives, but they can- 
not be said to have been all associated with a single community. 

3 Figures kindly supplied by Mr. John H. Barnstead, Registrar, 



1911 46,619 

1912 46,619 

1913 47,109 

1914 47,109 

1915 47,473 

1916 50,000 

1917 • • . • 50,000 

1918 50,000 

1919 55,000 

1920 65,000 1 

An index of the growth of practical civic interest upon 
the part of citizens is revealed by the comparison of the 
numbers participating in political action by means of the 
vote. Recent figures for Halifax are : 

Year Purpose 

1918 For Mayor 

1919 " 

1920 " 

Instead of the disaster resulting in disheartenment and 
a gradually diminishing civic interest, the percentage of in- 
difference is smaller and the percentage of interest is larger 
for 1920 than for 191 9, and the percentage of interest for 
1 91 9 is larger than that for the previous year. The number 
of eligible voters also shows increase. " The campaign [for 
1920] has marked a new era .... and will make it easier 
to institute new reforms." ^ 

Of further sociological niterest is the change affecting 
city-planning, civic improvement, housing, health, education 
and recreation. 

1 The Directory of 1920 estimates the present population to be 85,000. 

2 Halifax Morning Chronicle, April 29, 1920. 

Political Action 

Eligible No. Percentage 


voters voting of Indifference 

of Interest 

7,632 2,769 63.8 


8,890 4,264 52.1 


11,435 5,491 51-99 



In the realm of city-planning ^ and civic imiprovement, 
Halifax is awaking to the importance of taking advantage 
of an opportunity which comes to a city but seldom save 
through the avenue of disaster. The present Town-plan- 
ning Board was formed as a result of the Town-planning 
Act of 191 5. A board of four members, including the city 
engmeer constitute the committee. The limits of the area 
to be brought under the scheme were still undecided when 
the explosion camie. The disaster "hastened the resolu- 
tion "of the Board. " When the disaster came it seemed 
that things would have to come to a head." Mr. Thomas 
Adams, the Dominion Housing and Townr-planning Ad- 
visor, was brought to Halifax to help determine what should 
be done. " The disaster simply had the effect of bringing 
to a point certain things whicli were pending at the time. 
If that event had not occurred we would by this time be 
into a scheme, though possibly not so far as we are." To- 
day the limits of the area have been defined and the scheme 
is nearly ready for presentation to the Council for adoption. 
The Dominion Town-planning Advisor's assistant reports 
that real progress has been made in the Halifax plan deal- 
ing with the proposed zoning of the city into factory, shop- 
ping and residential districts, the provision for future streets, 
street-widening and building lines, and suggestions for park 
and aerodrome sites. In the devastated area he has re- 
marked progress in street-opening, in grading of the slope 
and in architectural treatment of the houses. Five himdred 

1 The earliest city-planning was mediaeval Halifax was laid out by- 
military engineers with narrow streets — the "ideal was a fortified en- 
closure designed to accommodate the maximum number of inhabitants 
with the minimum of space." In 1813 a town-planning scheme was set 
on foot for the purpose of straighteni-ng streets, the removal of pro- 
jections and banks of earth and stones which at that time existed in the 
center of streets. Considerable betterment resulted but unfortunately 
many fine trees were cut down. 


trees and three hundred shrubs have been ordered to be 
planted in this area. The whole area is under the control of 
the Relief Commission, for the Act appointing the Com- 
mission gave it the powers of a Town-planning Board. 

The disaster may thus be said not only to have hastened 
the resolution of the existing committee, but to have pro- 
duced two planning-boards instead of one. Each must 
keep in mind the true ideal. For it is not the "City 
Beautiful " idea, but that of utility that is fundamental to 
city-planning. It is a principle to reduce to the minimum 
the social problems of community life, to accomplish 
Aristotle's ideal — " the welfare and happiness of everyone." 
In so doing civic beauty will not be neglected. " Scientific, 
sensible and sane city-planning " says an' authority " with 
utility and public convenience as its primary consideration 
produces beauty — the beauty that is the result of adapting 
successfully a thing to- its purpose." It is in accordance 
with this principle of civic art that the terminal area is 
being developed — a work des:*gned by the same architect 
who planned the Chateau Laurier and the Ottawa Plaza with 
such aesthetic taste. 

To '^ deep cuttings, spanned by fine bridges, and bordered 
with trees and pleasant driveways, after the manner of 
Paris," and to a " waterfront as stately as Genoa's, a ter- 
tminal station with a noble facade, overlooking a square 
and space of flowers," ^ the future will also bring to Halifax! 

more street-paving, sidewalks, parks, fountains, hedges, drive- 
ways, cluster-lighting, statuary, buildings of majesty, spacious- 
ness and beauty. Wires will be buried, unsightly poles will 
disappear. . . . With time will come all these things which 
stamp a city as modern, as caring for the comfort of its 

1 MacMechan, Archibald, "Changing Halifax," Canadian Magazine, 
vol. xli, no, 4, pp. 328, 329. 


people, their pleasure and test, and health and safety. All 
these things come with time, effort, development of city pride, 
and the concentrated desire of a people for them.^ 

The question of housing is recognized as an old Halifax 
problem. It was already an acute one when the blow of 
the catastrophe fell and multiplied the difficulty a thousand- 
fold. The Relief Commission has grappled with itsi 
end of the problemi, namely, the housing of the many refu- 
gees who were first accommodated in lodgings and dn 
temporary shelters.^ The old sombre frame-constructed 
buildings of the pre-disaster days are being replaced with 
attractive hydrostone. A hard-working wage-earning com- 
munity is stepping out of indifferent structures into homes 
both comfortable and well-ordained. 

But the old problem would have still remained unsolved, 
had not the city authorities caught something of the re- 
construction spirit and felt the sharp urge of increasing 
difficulties. Action has been at last precipitated. How- 
ever, lacking in comprehensiveness the first attempts, the 
city has bestirred itself and has come to realize adequate 
housing to be a supreme need of the commiunity and vitally 
associated with the city's healtli a,nd welfare. A Housing 
Committee of five members has been formed, having as 
chairman a man of widely recognized building experience and 
as director of housing, a capable citizen. It is intended to 
miake full use of the federal housing schemie, in a practical 
way, the City Council having reversed its former decisions 
and accepted by by-law the obligation which the govern^ 
ment act requires. It is hoped in this way to promote the 
erection of modem dwellings and to " contribute to the 
general health and well-being of the community." 

* Crowell, H. C, The Busy East, vol. x, no. 7, p. 12. 
2 A model housing development of 346 houses in the new north end 
has followed the disaster. " It is reasonable to assume," writes an 


Thus the principle of promotive legislation and govern- 
ment aid, which when finally accepted in 1890, began the 
remarkable housing reformi in England, has entered the 
City of Halifax, and will eventually write a record of in- 
creased health, comfort and contentment. How soon that 
record is written will largely depend upon the citizens them- 
selves and their response to a leadership that is forceful asi 
well as wise. 

The matter of health organization in Halifax affords 
perhaps the most significant contrast with the pre-disaster 
days. Prior to the catastrophe public health organization 
was not a matter for civic pride. The dispensary, which 
is often regarded as the index of a city's care for health, 
had received scant support and could only perform in- 
different service. Adequate sanitary inspection could not 
be carried out for want of inspectors. The death rate ^ had 
averaged about twenty percent for a period of ten years, 
and the infant and tuberculosis mortality had been tremien^ 
dously high — the former reaching the figure of one hundred 
and eighty-two." There was no spur to progressive ad- 
ministration. The city was too ill-equipped to cope with 
such conditions. 

Today Halifax has the finest public health program and 
most complete public health organization in the Dominion. 
The fact that this is so is in very close relation to the 
catastrophe inasmuch as an unexpended balance of relief 
moneys ^ has been redirected by request for health purposes 

observer, "that the standard of living will ascend. Already the in- 
fluence of these new houses is showing itself in the homes that are 
springing up all over the city." 
^London's is 14.6, New York's 13.6. 

2 New York's is 90, New Zealand's 60. 

3 These funds are from the munificent gift of Massachusetts. A 
Massachusetts-Halifax Health Commission has been formed — Dr. B. 
Franklin Royer is the executive officer. 


in Halifax. A five-year policy has been inaugurated. Fifty 
thousand dollars per year of the relief money, fifteen thous- 
and dollars per year of the Canadian government money and 
five thousand dollars per year each, of the city and pro- 
vincial money are to be expended in the five-year campaign. 
The sum totals seventy-five thousand dollars per year, or 
practically one dollar per capita. 

A completely equipped health centre has been established 
including all the essential remedial and educational agencies, 
namely, pre-natal, pre-school-age, school-age, tuberculosis, 
venereal disease, eye, ear, nose and throat clinics. Thero^ 
will also be provision for the growth of health ideas through 
mother's classes, first-aid, and sanitary leagues. A public 
health course for nurses is included in the educational cam- 
paign.^ A most SHccessful baby-saving exhibit has been 
held, and the plan calls for a full-time tuberculosis specialist. 

Upon the part of the civic authorities there has been a 
greater realization of responsibility. Progressive steps 
have been already taken including the appointment 
of a Doctor of Public Health, and the provision of 
district sanitary inspectors. Restaurants and all places 
where food is exposed for sale are being systematically in- 
spected with a view of effecting improvements. A single 
instance of commendable activity along sanitary lines is the 
prohibition of movable lunch cars, which have been seen 
on the streets of Halifax for years. The removal of a lot 
of dwellings unfit for occupation is receiving the attention 
of the officials. In fact it is the intention of the present 
Council to improve conditions throughout the city generally 
as quickly as is feasible to do so. Another illustration of the 
direction of attention to modern social methods is the pre- 
sent discussion of plans for a psychiatric clinic for mental 
hygiene and the discovery of defectives, especially those 

1 Dalhousie University has recently graduated the first class of nurses 
in Canada to receive the Diploma of Public Health. 


attending the schools. Still another indication of interest 
in child welfare is the fact that a clinic for babies was estab- 
lished in a central locality and a nurse for babies regularly 
employed. The hitherto meager hospital facilities are being 
amplified by the building of a maternity hospital and the en- 
largement of the children's hospital, — a centralization plan 
of hospital service being a unique and distinctive feature. In 
the way of industrial hygiene a full-time nurse is employed in 
the ship-building plant and here also safety policies have been 
introduced and have reduced accidents to a minimum. The 
miovement for the control of preventable disease is gaining 
impetus and a modem tuberculosis hospital is being estab- 
lished. The Victoria General Hospital is being enlarged 
and extended, the additions having an estimated cost of 
half a million dollars. 

But it is not alone ithe activities of the Health Com-i 
mission but also the earlier vigorous policy of disaster 
medical relief, which is seen reflected in the growing sense 
of community-responsibility for health conditions. Halifax; 
has come to see the principle fundaimenital to all health 
reform, that public health is a purchasable commodity and 
that improvement in vital statistics is in close correlation 
with the progress of health organization. It remains to 
be seen whether so favored a community will also lead the 
way in the registration and periodic health examination of 
every individual citizen which is the final goal of all policies 
of health reform. 

The standards of education have always been high in 
Halifax. She has been, the educational center of the 
Maritime Provinces. Her academic attainments have 
brought to her much distinction and not a little glory. Her 
public schools boast many a fine record to furnish inspiration 
to each successive generation. To secure appointment to 
the Halifax teaching staff the applicant miust possess the 


highest qualifications. But however much educational lead- 
ers may desire them, modern methods and up^to-date equip- 
ment await in large measure the public will. Only where 
there is a will is there a way. That the public will in Hali- 
fax is becoming awakened to the vital role her educators 
play is being proven by the response to the campaign for the 
expansion of Dalhousie University. That response has been 
most generous and general, while local contributions have 
been amplified by large benefactions from the Carnegie 
Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Of the latter 
benefactions together amounting to one million dollars — • 
four hundred thousand will be expended upon buildings and 
equipment. The modernizing process is shown again in 
the decision of the university to establish at once a Faculty 
of Commerce and to encourage the teaching of Spanish and 
Portuguese in the educational institutions of the city. 

In the old teaching methods all are given the same course 
of instruction regardless of the individual mental differences. 
Today the effort is to provide an education to fit the mind 
rather than to force the mind to fit the education. In the 
public schools of Halifax there are not lacking indications 
which herald the coming of the newer pedagogy. Among 
these may be mentioned the opening of sub-normal classes 
for retarded children, experimentation with the social-re- 
citation system, the display of Safety-First League posters 
and the development of those departments already estab- 
lished, vis. vocational and domestic training, manual and 
physical education, medical inspection, supervised play- 
grounds, school nurses, dental clinics, and the wider use 
of school plants in evening technical classes. 

Halifax will sooner or later decide to employ to the ful- 
lest degree all the opportunities which child-training af- 
fords. The school system is an institution of society to 
mediate between a child and his environment. Children 


must learn to do and to be as well as ito know. Their* 
plastic minds must receive practice in resistance to domina- 
tion by feeling and in the use of the intellect as the servant 
and guide of life. To the children of HaHfax is due 
eventually a thorough training in citizenship. This is the 
last call of the new future in education. It rests upon the 
twin pillars of educational psychology and educational 

Recreation is still another sphere of civic life wherein 
the City of Halifax has taken a forward step. In making 
lier plans for the future she has not forgotten that the re- 
built city should contain every fac-lity for children to grow 
up with strong bodies and sane minds; as well as public pro- 
vision for the leisure time of the adult population. A Re- 
creation Commission has been formed made up of representa- 
tives of the various civic bodies and from the civic and pro- 
vincial governments.^ A playground expert was called in 
by the city government, who after study of the situation and 
conference with local groups, recommended a system of 
recreation as part of the general city plan. Already marked 
progress has resulted; indeed it has been said that the 
"municipal recreation system of Halifax has made a re- 
cord for itself." A hill of about fifteen acres in the heart 
of the devastated area has been reserved for a park and play- 
ground. The city has built and turned over tO' the Com- 
mission a temporary bath-house, and has set aside the sum of 
ten thousand dollars for a permanent structure. The plans 
contain recommendations for minimum! play-space for every 
school child, a central public recreation area, an open-air 
hillside stadium, as well as a community center with audi- 

1 It should be stated that the supervised playground movement had 
been developing in Halifax for a period of fourteen years, first under 
the Women's Council, afterwards under a regularly incorporated asso- 
ciation with which the Women's Council merged. 


torium, community theatre, natatorium, gymnasium, and 
public baths. The neal significance of this movement Hali- 
fax has not, herself, as yet fully realized. Just as there is 
a close relationship between health organization and mortal- 
ity tables, so there is a close association between open 
spaces, street play, etc., and juvenile, as well as other forms 
of delinquency.^ The moral value of organized recreation 
was itself demonstrated in the war, while the increasing 
menace of industrial fatigue, as well as the fact of the shorter 
working-day, call for public recreational facilities as ai 
social policy. This policy is not however fully carried out 
with merely constructive and promotive action. It must be! 
followed by restrictive and regulatory control of commercial- 
ized recreation, and wise and adequate systems of inspection 
for amusement in all its forms. This is the path of pro- 
gress in socialized recreation. 

Progress in cooperation has also to be noticed. There 
has been a new sense of unity in dealing with common prob- 
lems. The number of things which perforce had to be 
done together during the catastrophe was great. This doing 
of things together will be continued. The establishment of 
the Halifax Cooperative Society is initial evidence of a 
m;ovement towards cooperative buying. Cooperation for 
community ends even now is revealing itself in the new 
interest for the common control of recreation, health con- 
ditions, etc. "The disaster," runs an article in the press, 
" has given our social movement an impetus. The social 

^ In view of the explosion and the resulting housing conditions, an 
increase in juvenile delinquency might have been expected, but the 
" playgrounds which were established immediately after the disaster, 
and which adjoined both of the large temporary housing projects, are, 
it is felt, responsible for the excellent conditions which exist The 
records of the Superintendent of Neglected and Delinquent Children 
show that there was an actual decrease in the number of juvenile arrests 
in 1918 over 1917." — (Leland, Arthur, " Recreation as a Part of the City 
Plan for Halifax, N. S., Canada," Playground, vol. xiii, no. 10, p. 493.) 


woirkers of -the different creeds and classes have discovered 
each other and are getting together." ^ The organization of 
social service which only a few years back took a beginning 
in the form of an unpretentious bureau has shot ahead with 
amazing rapidity and now exercises an influence of coordina- 
tion upon the churches, charities and philanthropic societies 
of the city. 

The unifying process is well illustrated by the increased 
cooperation upon the part of the churches. Following the 
disaster the churches of the city united into a' single organs 
ization for relief service under the chairmanship of the 
Archbishop of Nova Scotia. Since then a Ministerial As- 
sociation has been formed which has directed cooperative 
effort along various lines and has exercised pressure upon 
those in authority where the best interests of the city were 

Thus the City of Halifax has been galvanized into life 
through the testing experience of a great catastrophe. She 
has undergone a civic transformation, such as could hardly 
otherwise have happened in fifty years. She has caught 
the spirit of the social age. This spirit after all means only 
that the community is just a family on a larger scale, and 
the interests of each member are interwoven with those of 
all. But merely to catch the spirit will not suffice. It 
must be cherished through an inevitable period of reaction 
and passivity, and then carried on still further into the re- 
lations of capital and labor, into the realm! of socialized rec- 
reation and into those multiform spheres of social insurance 
whither all true social policies lead. 

All these converging lines taken not singly but together 
constitute a very real basis of faith in the city's future, and 
of hope for permanent changes for the better. Perhaps 
this attitude cannot be more fittingly expressed than in the 
words of Carstens : 

^ Halifax Evening Mail, March 22, 1918. 


The Halifax disaster will leave a permanent mark upon 
the city for at least a generation, because so many of the living 
have been blinded or maimed for life. But it is possible that 
the disaster may leave a mark of another sort, for it is con- 
fidently believed by those who took part in the relief work 
during the first few weeks that Halifax will gain as well as 
lose. The sturdy qualities of its citizens will bring 'beauty 
out of ashes.' 

But it is rather for social than for material progress that 
the sociologist will seek and Carstens continues: 

It may reasonably be expected that through this Calvary, 
thfere may be developed a program for the care, training and 
education of the sightless as good if not better than any now 
existing, that medical social service will be permanently grafted 
upon the hospital and out-patient service of the community, 
and that the staff of teachers of the stricken city, by direct con- 
tact with the intimate problems of the families of the children 
they have in their class-rooms may acquire a broader view 
of their work. If there should result no other benefits, and 
there are likely to be many, as for example city-planning, 
housing and health, the death and suffering at Halifax will 
not have been in vain, will not have been all loss.^ 

1 Carstens, C. C, " From the Ashes of Halifax," Survey, vol. xxxix, 
no. 13, p. 61. 


Recapitulation — The various steps in the study presented in propositional 
form — The role of catastrophe direct and indirect, (a) Directly pre- 
pares the ground- work for change by: (i) weakening social im- 
mobility; (2) producing fluidity of custom; (3) enhancing environal 
favorability for change — ^(b) Indirectly sets in motion factors deter- 
mining the nature of the change such as: (i) the release of spirit and 
morale; (2) the play of imitation; (3) the stimulus of leaders and 
lookers-on; (4) the socialization of institutions. 

If the preceding narrative has been successful in setting 
forth the facts as they were observed, the reader has now 
before him a fairly accurate picture of a community as it 
reacts under the stimulus of catastrophe and proceeds to 
adjust itself to the circumstantial pressure of new con- 
ditions. It will be well, however, for the sake of clearness 
in emphasizing our closing propositions to recapitulate one 
by one the various steps in our study. These steps while 
primarily intended to follow the natural order in point of 
time will also be seen to represent a definite sociological pro- 
cess of development. 

At first the shock of the catastrophe was seen to have been 
sufficiently terrific to affect every inhabitant of the city. 
This fact gives peculiar value to ithe investigation. The 
miore a shock is limited in extent the more its analysis grows 
in complexity. In such cases consideration must necessarily 
be given to the frontiers of influence. The chapter discrib- 
ing the shock also found the immediate reaction to have beeni 
a fairly general disintegration of social institutions, and of 
the usual methods of social control — in short, a dissolution 
141] 141 


of the cusftomary. This turmoil into which society was 
thrown is sometimes called " fluidity," and, for lack of a 
better one, this term has been retained. It would thus ap- 
pear that if it were later observed that essential social 
changes ensued, fluidity was one of the requisites of 
change; and this is indeed in perfect tally with previous 
thought upon the subject as set forth in our more theore- 
tical introduction and expressed in the proposition that 
fluidity is fundamental to social change. 

The more general and preliminary treatment over, in- 
dividual and group reactions were then examined in greater 
detail, and the phenomena of the major sort were singled 
out and classified. These were found to be either abnormal 
and handicapping such as emotional parturition ; or stimula- 
tive and promotive, as dynamogenic reaction. This con- 
stituted the material of the second chapter. Put in pro- 
positional form! it would be that catastrophe is attended 
by phenomena of social psychology which may either re- 
tard or promote social reorganization. 

Social organization came next in order, and because its 
progress was largely expedited by the organization of re- 
lief, — the first social activity, — the sociological factors ob- 
served in the latter have been recorded. These factors were 
classified as physical, including climate and topography, and 
psychological, such as leadership, suggestion, imitation, dis- 
cussion, recognition of utility and consciousness of kind. 
Reference was also made to biological and equipmental 
consideration®. Two conclusions of interest are here de- 
ducible: first, that part of society which is most closely 
organized and disciplined in normality first recovers social 
consciousness in catastrophe; second, it is only after 
division of function delegates to a special group the re- 
sponsibility for relief work that public thought is directed 
to the resumption of a normal society. These conclusions 

143] CONCLUSION 143 

emphasize the conservation value to society of a militia 
organization in every connmiunity and also of a permanent 
vigilance committee. 

The fifth chapter introduced a relatively new element, 
the presence of which may be relied upon in all future em- 
ergencies, that of a disaster social service. Its contribu- 
tion was that of skillful service and wise direction; its 
permanent effect, the socialization of the community. The 
value of the presence of visiting social specialists is in inverse 
proportion to the degree to which the socialization of a com- 
munity has advanced. The practical conclusion is clearly 
that self-dependence of a community in adversity is furthered 
by the socialization of the existing institutions. 

The next and latest group to function effectively was that 
of government, but social legislation when forth-coming, 
contributed an important and deciding influence, and was 
itself in turn enriched by the calamity. Brought to the 
test of comparison with observed facts the statement in the 
itLtroduction receives abundant justification; namely, that 
catastrophe is in close association with progress in social 

To the influences already mentioned ati additional factor 
of recuperation is added, — ^the socio-economic one. Dis- 
aster-stricken communities cannot become normal until the 
social surplus is restored. They may however always coutit 
upon public aid. But there is found to be strongly suggested 
a correlation between the magnitude or striking character 
of a disaster and the generosity of the relief response. 

The last chapter is devoted to a cataloging of the indica- 
tions of social change from the standpoint of the community 
as a whole. The old social order is contrasted with that 
obtaining two years subsequent to the disaster. It here ap- 
peared that the city of Halifax had as a community under- 
gone and is undergoing ao extraordinary social change. 


This implies, according to the theory of social causation, an 
extraordinary antecedent. Before finally accepting the fac- 
tor of catastrophe as such, the scientific reader may very 
properly ask whether there are tiot alternatives. 

To this query the answer is that there are alternatives, 
other very considerable extra-social factors to be noted, but 
that catastrophe was itself the precipitating factor there is 
little room for doubt. Of the other factors two only are 
of sufficient weight for our present consideration. The 
earliest in order of time, and perhaps also in rank of imi- 
portance is that which Halifax resideiiits understand as the 
comiing of the new ocean terminals. The coming was so 
sudden in the nature of its announcement, and meant for 
many so miuch depreciation in property values, that it had 
something of the nature of catastrophe within it. It altered 
very extensively the previously accepted ideas of residential 
and business and industrial sections of the city, and caused 
a jolt in the body politic, such as had not visited it for years 
— not since the middle of the nineteenth century brought the 
revolutionizing steam. It is not to be denied that this factor 
has contributed not a little to the weakening oif immobility, 
and the preparation of the ground for an inrush of the spirit 
of progress. 

The other factor was the war. The war functioned 
mightily in community organization for service. It brought 
prosperity to many a door, and whetted the appetite of many 
a merchant to put the business of peace on' a war basis. But 
it would be merely speculation to say that prosperity would 
have continued in peace. Indeed such a conclusion would 
not be historically justifiable. Halifax has been through 
three important wars. In each, " trade was active, prices 
were high, the population increased, industry was stimulated 
by the demand, rents doubled and trebled, streets were un- 
commonly busy." But in each case also Halifax settled 

145] CONCLUSION 145 

back to her ante-bellum sluggishness. Iti 181 6 Halifax' 
began to feel the reaction consequent upon the close of a 
war. The large navy and army were withdrawn and Hali- 
fax and its inhabitants " bore the appearance of a town: at the 
close of a fair. The sudden change from universal hustle 
and business to ordinary pursuits made this alteration 
at times very perceptible. Money gradually disappeared 
and the failure of several mercantile establishments added 
to the general distress." But the closing of the war, now 
a himdred years later, has exhibited no such relapse. On 
the other hand Halifax grows daily more prosperous and 
progressive than before. Her bank clearings do not fail, 
but rather increiase. There is clearly some further in- 
fluence associated with this change. 

But there is a very real sense in which the war may in- 
deed be said to have been the factor, — if we miean by it the 
fact that through the war and as a direct result of war- 
service the city was laid half in ruins by possibly the great- 
est single catastrophe on the American Continent. If we 
mean this, we have named the all-precipitating and deter- 
mining event. The catastrophe was an episode of the great 

It only remains to add by way of clearer definition 
that the role of catastrophe appears to be both direct and in^ 
direct. FunoLiioninig directly, it prepares the groiund-^ 
work for social change by (i) weakening social immobility; 
(2) precipitating fluidity of custom; (3) forcing environal 
favorability for change. Indirectly, it sets in motion 
factors determining the nature of the social change, such as 
(i) the release of spirit and morale; (2) the play of im- 
itaition; (3) the stimulus of leaders and lookers-on; (4) the 
socialization of institutions. 

Our final principle ^ thus appears to be that progress in 

1 The two additional propositions suggested in the the Introduction, 


catastrophe is a resultant of specific conditioning factors 
some of which are subject to social control. If there is one 
thing more than another which we would emphasize in con- 
clusion it is this final principle. Progress, is not neces- 
sarily a natural or assured result of change. It comes only 
as a result o'f effort that is wisely expended and sacrifice 
which is sacrifice in truth. 

That the nature of the social change in Halifax is one 
in the direction of progress we think to be based on reason 
and not alone on hope. That it is also our fervent hope, 
we need hardly add. But every Haligonian who cherishes 
for his city the vision which this book contains, may help 
mightily tO' bring it to pass by making effort his watchword 
and intelligence his guide. We do' not say it will all come 
tomorrow. We do say a wonderful beginning has been made 
since yesterday. And this is bright for the future. In no 
better words can we conclude than in those of one of her 
greatest lovers: "Changes must come to Halifax. This 
is a world of change. But every true Haligonian hopes that 
the changes will not disfigure his beloved city, but only 
heighten and enhance the intimate and haunting charms 
she borrows from the sea.*' ^ 

namely, that the degree of fluidity seems to vary directly as the shock 
of the catastrophe, and that brusk revolution in the conditions of life 
accomplish not sudden, but gradual changes m society, require a study 
of comparative catastrophic phenomena for verification or rejection. 
1 MacMechan, op. cit., p. :i3^. 


Accidents, industrial, ii6, 135 

Advancement, human, vide progress 

Aesthetics, 70 

Aggregation, social, 62 

Altruism, 51, 58 

Ameliorative legislation, vide leg- 

Analytic psychology, 49 

Anxiety, 38 

Anger, 39, 44, 45 

Animal relief, 91 

Army, vide military 

Association, 56, 63; utility of, 62, 

Associations, state and voluntary, 
73, 99 

Attention, 17, 20, 54, 55, 134 

Authority, loi, 102, 103, 104 


Behavior, 17, 18, 52, 53, 60, 67 
Beliefs, 23, 38, 120 
Bereavement, 47 
Biological factors in society, 67, 

Body politic, 44, 69, 144 
Bureau, welfare, 139 
Business, disorganization of, 31, 

59, 113; expansion of, 77, 124; 

indices of, 125; relief, 105, 113; 

resumption of, 69, 71, 72, 73 

Capital, 139 

Catastrophe, and crisis, 16, 18; 
and communication, 31 ; defini- 
tion of, 14; and evolution, 14, 
15; and generosity, 57, 58, 115; 
and heroism, 55; and insurance, 
116; and poetry, 22; and popu- 
lation, 128; and progress, 21, 22, 
23; and social change, 118; and 
social disintegration, 31; and 
social economy, 80; and social 

legislation, 23, 100; and social 
organization, 59, 69; and social 
psychology, 35; and suicide, 46; 
and social surplus, 1 1 1 ; and 
survival, 56; and tragedy, 114, 
lis; and war, 14 

Cataclysm, vide catastrophe 

Causation, social, 144 

Centralization, policy of, 83 

Ceremony, 120 

Change, social, and catastrophe, 
20, 21 ; and crisis, 16, 21 ; defini- 
tion of, 15, 21; factor of, 15, 16; 
and fluidity, 21 ; indications of, 
123, 143 ; and progress, 21 ; re- 
sistance to, 19 

Charity, 22, 97 

Child welfare, 87, 88, 89, 90, 98, 
135, 137 

Churches, vide religious insti- 

Circumstantial pressure, 33, 64, 77 

Civic authority, vide municipal 

Civic improvement, 22, 77, 105, 
108, 129, 130, 140 

Civilization, 31, 49 

Classes, social, 96, 139 

Clergy, 74, 83, 84, 139 

Clinics, 134 

Climatic factors in society, 66, 67, 

Clubs, 76, 123 

Collective behavicr, vide behavior 

Commerce, 70, 118, 122 

Commercialized recreation, 138 

Communication, 31, 57, 61, 62, 71, 
72, 73 

Community, 19, 21, 32, 49, 55, 62, 
67, 78, 80, 84, 85, 88, 92, 95, 96, 
97, 100, loi, 109, 115, 135, 138, 

Comparative catastrophe, 146 

Compensation, 90, 96, 97, 105, 107 

Component groups, 70 





Consciousness, 37, 42, 59. 60, 68, 
124, 142 

Consciousness of kind, 62,, 6y, 142 

Consciousness of underlying dif- 
ference, 69 

Conservation, social, 79, 84, 143 

Conservatism in society, 19, 117, 

Contagion of feeling, 42 

Control, social, 19, 22, 34, 141, 146 

Conventionality, 49 

Cooperation, 61, 83, 84, 97, 138 

Crime, 50, 76 

Criticism, 49, 84, 86, 92, 94 

Crisis, and catastrophe, 16; defini- 
tion of, 16; and fluidity, 18; and 
great men, 55 ; and progress, 55 ; 
and revolution, 17; significance 
of, 16 

Crises, in battles, 16 ; in communi- 
ties, 18; in diseases, 16; in life- 
histories, 16, 18; men skilled in 
deaHng with, 83, 98; power to 
meet, 8b; in religions, 16; in 
social institutions, 16; in world 
of thought, 16 

Crowd, 41, 42, 43, 45 

Crowd psychology, 35, 41, 45 

Courts, 96 

Culture, 19, 21, 80 

Curiosity, 44 

Custom, 15, 19, 34, 49, 6z, 67, 69, 
120, 142, 145 

Cycles, 15 


Death rate, 133 

Delinquency, 138 

Delirium, oneiric, 46 

Delusion, 35, 38 

Determination, 44, 58 

Diagnosis, 'social, 92, 121 

Disaster, vide catastrophe 

Disaster psychology, vide psycho- 

Disaster relief, vide relief 

Disease, 22, 36, 48, 134 

Discussion, ^y, 64, 67, 142 

Disintegration of society, 18, 31, 
33, 34 35, 59 

Dispensary, 88, 133 

Distributive system of society, 31 

Diversity of capacity, 69 

Division of labor, 69, 79, 142 

Dynamic forces, 19 

Dynamogenic reactions, 52 

Economic factors in society, 68 
Economy, social, 80, 98 
Education, 19, 84, loi, 120, 121, 

129, 134, 135, 136, 137 
Educational institutions, 20, 69, 70, 

74, 7^, 82, 85, 91, 95, 135, 136 
Educational psychology, 137 
Educational sociology, 137 
Emergency, 52, 60, 79, 82, 83, 87, 

93, 143 

Emotion, 33, z6, 44, 46, 47, 48, 

52, 53 
Endurance, 52, 53, 54, 60 
Energies, 52, 58 
Environmental effects, 15, 75, 136, 

Envy, 44 

Erroneous recognition, 39 
Equipmental factors in "society, 

68, 142 
Evolution, 14, 15, 56, loi 
Exaltation, 45, 46 
Expectancy, 41 

Factors in social change, 15, 16, 

22, 144 
Family, 59, 61, 74 86, 88, 89, 140 
Fatigue, 45, 52, 53, 54 
Fear, 39, 44, 45, 64 
First aid, 41, 61, 134 
Flight instinct, 40 
Fluidity, 18, 19, 20, 21, 34, 142, 145 
Flux, 19, 34 
Folkways, 18 
Food-getting, 39, 92 
Fraternal societies, 76, 98 


Generosity, 55, 57, 58, iiS, 116, 143 
Geographic determinants, 67, 119 
Government, 19, 31, 100, loi; 
agencies of, 100; aid in disaster, 

94, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107; an 
institution of society, lOO; and 
leadership, 117; officials, 62, 102, 
106; over-emphasis of, 19, 119, 

Gratitude, 45 

Great man, 55, 69 

Greed, 44, 5i, 94 

Gregarious instinct, 40, 41, 63, 67 

Grief, 38, 48 


Group, 41, 55, 56, 6o, 70, 142 
Group heroism, 56 


Habit, 17, 19, 20, 52, 69, 117 
Habitation, 39, 63 
Hallucination, 35, 37, 3o 
Happiness, 70, 112 
Health, public, 68, 88, loi, 108, 119, 

132, 133, 134, 135, 138, 140 
Helpfulness, psychology of, 50, 85 
Herd instinct, 41, 63 
Heroism, 55, 56 
History^, 14 
Heredity, 67 

Homes, 31, 32, 48, 63, 87, 114 
Homogeneity, 70 
Housing, 114, 129, 132, 140 
Hospitals, 53, 66, 88, 90, 135, 140 
Human nature, 93, 94 
Hyperactivity of imagination, 46 
Hyper-suggestibility, 44 
Hypnosis, 45 

Imagination, 31, 37, 46, 114 
Imitation, 15, ^3, 67, 77, 14?, I45 
Imitation, conditions effecting rate 

of, 77 
Immobility of society, 19, 20, 120, 

144, 145 ,, . 
Impulsive social action, 42, 40 
Iniemnity, principle of, 95 
Indications of social change, 123, 

Indices of business, 125 
Individual reactions, 41, Sh 53, 55 
Industry, 31, 69, 118, 121, 144 
Industrial, accidents, 116, 135; 

fatigue, 138; hygiene, I35 
Inhibitions, 36, 41, 49 
Insanity, 46 

Instincts, 18, 20, 35, 39, 40, 44 
Institutions, social, vide religious, 

Insurance, social, 105, 116, 125 


Jealousy, 44 

Justice, 19 

Juvenile delinquency, 138 


Kind, consciousness of, 63, 67, 142 
Kindliness, 45, 55 



Labor, 139; division of, 69, 79; 

legislation, 23, loi, 108 
Law, 49, 50, 58, 120 
Leadership, 21, 61, 67, 80, 84, 86, 


Legislation, ameliorative, lOi ; 
boundaries of, loi ; and catas- 
trophe, 23, no, 143; health, 108; 
ideals of, loi ; labor, 23, loi, 108; 
mining, 23, 108; marine, 23, 108, 
109; promotive, 1335 progress 
in, loi, 108, no, 143; social, 
23, 100 

Like-mindedness, 63, 70 

Like response, 41 

Limitation of field of conscious- 
ness, 42 

Lookers-on, stimulus of, 21, 78, 145 


Magic, 20, 78 

Martial law, loi 

Maternity, 48, I35 

Mass relief, 85 

Medical insi)ection, 136 

Medical social service, 87, 88, 89, 

98, 140 
Mental hygiene, 134 
Mental unity, 41 
Meteorological pressure, 65 
Military and naval organization, 

51, 60, 63, 68, 88, loi, 102, 122, 

143, 145 . . 

Ministerial association, 139 
Models, 21, 77, 78 
Modes of affective experience, 44 
Morale, 21, 106, 108, 145 
Morality, 20, 97 
Mores, 70 

Morgue service, 39, 91, 98 
Mortality, 112 
Municipal control, loi, 102, 103, 

Mutual aid, 55, 56, 57, 58 

Navy, vide military 
News-notice, 115 

Normality, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 7% 


Obstruction and the human will, 


Occupational change, 113 
Oneiric delirium, 46 
Organization, vide social, relief 
Orientation, 123 
Original tendencies, 39 

Pain economy, 112 

Pain, 53, 54 

Parental instinct, 40, 41 

Pensions, 90 

Percentage of indifference, 129 

Percentage of interest, 129 

Personal crises, 18 

Phenomena, of bereavement, 47; 
of crowd psychology, 35, 41, 45 ; 
diverse, 35; of emotion, 44; of 
endurance, 52, 53; post-catas- 
trophic, 48; of repression, 49 

Philanthropy, 52, 69, 116 

Physical factors in society, 67, 142 

Physiological reactions, 35, 36, 52 

Pity, 39 

Pleasure economy, 112 

Pluralistic behavior, vide be- 

Plural leadership, 49 

Police, 76, 10 1, 102 

Political action, 64, 76, 129 

Political Science, 103 

Poor Lws, loi 

Population, 19, 67, 113, 114, 128, 

137, 144 

Post-catastrophic phenomena, 48 

Precipitating agent, 16, 144, 145 

Preparedness, 64 

Press, 72 

Pressure, social, 63, 77 

Primitive household, 69 

Principles of relief, vide relief 

Production, 19 

Profiteering, psychology of, 51 

Procedure, 23, 79, 102, 109 

Progress, in catastrophe, 21, 22, 
23, 55, 98, 108, 146; and change, 
21 ; degree of, 21 ; and evolu- 
tion, 14, 15 ; meaning of, 21 ; and 
relief, 80 ; in social legislation, 23 

Protocracy, 60, 70 

Psychiatry, 134 

Psychological factors in society, 
67, 142 

Psychology, analytic, 49; crowd, 
35, 41, 45; disaster, 35, 56; of 
helpfulness, 56, 85; of helpless- 



mess, 49; of insanity, 46; of 
profiteering, 51; of reHef, 49, 
94; social, 35; and sociology, 
19, 35 

Public opinion, 23, 84, 86, 93 

PubHc safety, 132, 136 

PubHc utilities, 71 

Pugnacity, instinct of, 40 


Reconditioning of instincts, 18 

Recreation, 19, 73, loi, 129, 137 

Recuperation of society, 20, 35, 
112, 114, 117, 143 

Regional influence, 66 

Regulative system of society, 31 

Rehabilitation, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 
91, 94, 98, 104, 105, 107 

ReHgion, 64, 118, 120, 121 

Religious institutions, 32, 63, 6g, 
70, 74, 77, 85, 95, 120, 139 

Relief, administration of, 44, 66, 
83, 86, 87, 93, 94; division of 
labor in, 69; fluctuation of, 116; 
leadership in, 61, 103, 116; medi- 
cal, 61, 62, 65; military in, 51, 
60, 63, 68; organization of, 59; 
psychology of, 49, 94; prin- 
ciples of, 81, 84, 85, 96; pro- 
cedure in, 79; relation to pro- 
gress, 80; residuum of, 97; re- 
serve, 98; secret service in, 98; 
shelter, 6s, 64, 66, 82, 90; stages 
in, 85 

Repression, 49. 50 

Reproductive system of society, 

Resentment, 45, 49 

Residuum of rehef, 97 

Resumption of normal society, 
70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75 

Restitution, principle of, 94, 95 

Retrogressive evolution, 15 

Revolution, 17, 22 

Ritual, 20 

Rumor, responsiveness to, 43, 63 


Sabbath observance, 77 
Safety, public, 132, 136 
Sanitation, 66, 133, 134 
Schools, vide educational insti- 
Science, 33, 88 
Security, feelings of, 41 




Self-control, social, 70 

Segregation, 64 

Self-preservation, 31, 40 

Sensation, 36, 38, 54 

Sense perception, Z7y 3^ 

Sensorium, social, 59 

Service, social, 80, 82, 84, 98, 117, 

139, 143 
Shibboleths, 77 
Shock, reaction, 31, 2^, 45, 54, 60, 

91, 141 
Social, action, 64 ; aggregation, 62 ; 
^ge, 139; choices, 121 ; conscious- 
ness, 60; conservation, 79, 84, 
143; conservatism, 19, 117, 120; 
contrasts, 32; control, 19, 22, 
34, 141, 146; economy, 80, 98; 
effects, 75, ^', factors, 59, 67, 
142; immobility, 18, 20, 120, 144, 
145; insurance, 105, 116, 125; 
legislation, 2^, 100; memory, 2Z, 
55; mind, 49, 70; order, 143; 
organization, 35, 59, 142; policy, 
80, 139; pressure, 6z, 77', psy- 
chology, 35; reorganization, 69; 
sensorium, 59; service, 80, 82, 
' 84, 98, 117, 139, 143; specialists, 
69, 81, 85, 94, 143; standards, 
32; surplus, 68, III, 112, 143 
Social change, vide diange 
Socialization, 52, 55, 85, 97, 142, 

Socialized recreation, 138, 139 
Society, ZZ, 35, 49, 69, 70, 7^, 79, 

91, 100 
Societies, 76, 99 
Socio-economic factors, 112, 117, 

Sociological factors, 59, 67, 142 
Sociology, 33, 35, 120; attractions 
of study, 13; educational, 137; 
and psychology, 19, 35; virgin 
fields in, 13, 23 
Sorrow, 45, 47 
Standar-is, social, 32 
Standards of living, 112, 113, 133 
State, loi 
Static conditions of society, vide 

Statistics, vital, 135 
Stimulus, of catastrophe, 33^ 51, 

53, 54, 57; of heroism, 55; of 
leaders, 21 ; of lookers-on, 21, 
78, 145; of models, 78; repeti- 
tion of, 45 

Struggle for existence, 41 

Sub-normal, 136 

Suggestibihty, 41, 42, 48, 142 

Suicide, 46 

Supervised playgroundts, 136 

Surplus, social, 68, iii, 112, 143 

Survival, 56 

Sustaining system of society, 31 

Sympathy, 45, 46, 55, 58 


Taboo, 49, 71 
Tender emotion, 45 
Themistes, 18 
Topography, 6y, 142 
Tradition, 32, 120 
Transportation, 43 
Trade-unions, 51 


Under-nutrition, 113 

Unemployment, 59, 125 

Unit in relief, 60 

Unity, mental, 41 

Utility, of association, 62, 67, 142 

Utilities, public, 71 


Variation, social, vide isocial 

Vicissitudes, 14, 21 
Vigilance committee, 19, 143 
Vigor, economic, 70 
Vocational training, 98, 136 
Volition, 55, 64 
Voluntary associations, 73, 84 


War, 14, 26, 45, 48, 94, 97, loi, 

117, 144 
Wealth, III 

Welfare, 70, 86, 132, 139 
Will, 22, 44, 52, 53 
Workmen's compensation, 105 
Worship, 19, 77 

Zeal, 44 


Born at Hammond River, Province of New Brunswick, 
Canada. Son of Samuel I. and Mary E. Perkins Prince. 
Graduate of St. John (N. B.) High School, the University 
of Toronto, Wycliffe College (Tor.). Taught at Ridley 
College, St. Catharines, Ont. Appointed to staff of St. 
Paul's Halifax N. S. Sjtudied for doctorate at Columbia 
University. Subject of primary interest, Sociology; of 
secondary interest. Statistics and Social Legislation. Gradu- 
ate courses with Professors, Giddings, Tenney, Chaddock, 
Lindsay, Andrews, Montague, McCrea. President of the 
British Empire Club of the University.